The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mike, by P. G.

Wodehouse This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: Mike Author: P. G. Wodehouse Release Date: June 15, 2004 [EBook #7423] Language: English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE ***

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LONDON 1909.


[Dedication] TO












CHAPTER I MIKE It was a morning in the middle of April, and the Jackson family were consequently breakfasting in comparative silence. The cricket season had not begun, and except during the cricket season they were in the habit of devoting their powerful minds at breakfast almost exclusively to the task of victualling against the labours of the day. In May, June, July, and August the silence was broken. The three grown-up Jacksons played regularly in first-class cricket, and there was always keen competition among their brothers and sisters for the copy of the _Sportsman_ which was to be found on the hall table with the letters. Whoever got it usually gloated over it in silence till urged wrathfully by the multitude to let them know what had happened; when it would appear that Joe had notched his seventh century, or that

Reggie had been run out when he was just getting set, or, as sometimes occurred, that that ass Frank had dropped Fry or Hayward in the slips before he had scored, with the result that the spared expert had made a couple of hundred and was still going strong. In such a case the criticisms of the family circle, particularly of the smaller Jackson sisters, were so breezy and unrestrained that Mrs. Jackson generally felt it necessary to apply the closure. Indeed, Marjory Jackson, aged fourteen, had on three several occasions been fined pudding at lunch for her caustic comments on the batting of her brother Reggie in important fixtures. Cricket was a tradition in the family, and the ladies, unable to their sorrow to play the game themselves, were resolved that it should not be their fault if the standard was not kept up. On this particular morning silence reigned. A deep gasp from some small Jackson, wrestling with bread-and-milk, and an occasional remark from Mr. Jackson on the letters he was reading, alone broke it. "Mike's late again," said Mrs. Jackson plaintively, at last. "He's getting up," and he was asleep. a sponge over him. tried to catch me, "Marjory!" "Well, he was on his back with his mouth wide open. I had to. He was snoring like anything." "You might have choked him." "I did," said Marjory with satisfaction. "Jam, please, Phyllis, you pig." Mr. Jackson looked up. "Mike will have to be more punctual when he goes to Wrykyn," he said. "Oh, father, is Mike going to Wrykyn?" asked Marjory. "When?" "Next term," said Mr. Jackson. "I've just heard from Mr. Wain," he added across the table to Mrs. Jackson. "The house is full, but he is turning a small room into an extra dormitory, so he can take Mike after all." The first comment on this momentous piece of news came from Bob Jackson. Bob was eighteen. The following term would be his last at Wrykyn, and, having won through so far without the infliction of a small brother, he disliked the prospect of not being allowed to finish as he had begun. "I say!" he said. "What?" "He ought to have gone before," said Mr. Jackson. "He's fifteen. Much too old for that private school. He has had it all his own way there, and it isn't good for him." "He's got cheek enough for ten," agreed Bob. said Marjory. "I went So," she added with a He swallowed an awful so he's certain to be in to see what he was doing, satanic chuckle, "I squeezed lot, and then he woke up, and down soon."

Mike had Joe's batting style to the last detail. "All right. "sorry I'm late. The resemblance was even more marked on the cricket field. and anything that affected his fortunes affected her. Last year he had been tried once or twice." The aspersion stung Marjory."Wrykyn will do him a world of good. and he fancied that his cap was a certainty this season. it's hardly likely that a kid like Mike'll get a look in." she said." Bob was in Donaldson's. It softened the blow to a certain extent that Mike should be going to Wain's. who had shown signs of finishing it. and was now at liberty to turn her mind to less pressing matters. "Go on with your breakfast. Jackson intervened. The door opened." Marjory bit off a section of her slice of bread-and-jam. and the missing member of the family appeared. His figure was thin and wiry. I bet he gets into the first eleven his first term. That's one comfort. but preferred him at a distance. He was fond of him in the abstract. he was curiously like his brother Joe. if he sweats. Bob disdained to reply. She had rescued the jam from Phyllis. He had made the same remark nearly every morning since the beginning of the holidays. This year it should be all right. He was among those heaps of last year's seconds to whom he had referred." "Considering there are eight old colours left. Mrs." he said. ." she muttered truculently through it." was his reference to the sponge incident. I bet he does. anyway. His third remark was of a practical nature. Mike Jackson was tall for his age." said Bob loftily. He was evidently going to be very tall some day. "I bet he gets in before you." she said. He might get his third. whose appearance is familiar to every one who takes an interest in first-class cricket. "Anyhow. There was a sound of footsteps in the passage outside. Marjory. "You mustn't say 'I bet' so much. His arms and legs looked a shade too long for his body. In face. He was a pocket edition of his century-making brother. though lacking the brilliance of his elder brothers." This was mere stereo. you little beast. Marjory gave tongue again. He had the same feeling for Mike that most boys of eighteen have for their fifteen-year-old brothers. Mike was her special ally." "We aren't in the same house. He was a sound bat. "Hooray! Mike's going to Wrykyn. "Hullo. Marjory. "besides heaps of last year's seconds.

obliged with a solo of her own composition."I say. It was a great moment. For several years now Saunders had been the chosen man. Jackson believed in private coaching. "Mike. Mike was his special favourite. The strength could only come with years. but the style was there already. assisted by the gardener's boy. In Bob he would turn out a good. somebody. "I say. He felt that in him he had material of the finest order to work upon. and squealed deafeningly for more milk. in six-eight time. having fixed him with a chilly stare for some seconds. sound article. what's under that dish?" * * * * * After breakfast." shouted Marjory. like Mike." "Do you think he'll get into the school team?" . He rose to it with the utmost dignity. Joe's style. Mr. aged three. "Mike. There was nothing the matter with Bob. Whereat Gladys Maud. put a green baize cloth over that kid. you know. Mike and Marjory went off together to the meadow at the end of the garden. "Mike. and his attitude towards the Jacksons was that of the Faithful Old Retainer in melodrama. Bob would be a Blue in his third or fourth year. you're going to Wrykyn. and Marjory walked with the professional to the bowling crease." began Mr. was engaged in putting up the net. Saunders. "Mike's going to Wrykyn next term. Saunders. Saunders would lie awake at night sometimes thinking of the possibilities that were in Mike. and probably a creditable performer among the rank and file of a county team later on." he said. had been able to use a bat a man had come down from the Oval to teach him the best way to do so." "Is he." groaned Bob. Mike Wryke Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Mike Wryke. Mike Wryky. the professional. Gladys Maud Evangeline. what's under that dish?" "Mike. father's just had a letter to say you're going to Wrykyn next term. Each of the boys in turn had passed from spectators to active participants in the net practice in the meadow. you're going to Wrykyn next term. the eldest of the family." "Oh." she said. Mike put on his pads. But he was not a cricket genius. So was father. miss? I was thinking he would be soon." From Phyllis. Mike looked round the table. with improvements. "All the boys were there. ages ago. as follows: "Mike Wryky. suddenly drew a long breath. and every spring since Joe." From Ella. "Good. Jackson--this again was stereo--"you really must learn to be more punctual----" He was interrupted by a chorus.

I was only saying don't count on it. Saunders? He's awfully good. I don't. you see. miss! Master Mike get into a school team! He'll be playing for England in another eight years. "He hit that hard enough. CHAPTER II THE JOURNEY DOWN The seeing off of Mike on the last day of the holidays was an imposing spectacle. Still. You know these school professionals. miss. but I meant next term. you get these young gentlemen of eighteen." said the professional. it's this way. and that's where the runs come in." Marjory sat down again beside the net. too. doesn't know as much about what I call real playing as Master Mike's forgotten. "they'd have him in the team before you could say knife. Even Joe only got in after he'd been at school two years. It's quite likely that it will. as she returned the ball. He's got as much style as Mr." "Yes. and watched more hopefully. isn't he? He's better than Bob. miss. we'll hope for the best. Seem to think playing forward the alpha and omugger of batting. it was all there. There's a young gentleman. Ready. To-day. That's what he'll be playing for. Marjory had to run to the end of the meadow to fetch one straight drive. he was playing more strongly than usual. Saunders. miss. They'll give the cap to somebody that can make a few then and there. and nineteen perhaps. perhaps." "Ah." "But Mike's jolly strong. Joe's got. "Well. with Master Mike. miss."School team. "If he could keep on doing ones like that. Saunders?" she asked. so you won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen. Going to a public school. Don't you think he might." As Saunders had said. "Next term!" he said. there's too much of the come-right-out-at-everything about 'em for my taste. I'm not saying it mightn't be. especially at . It's all there. They'll make him pat balls back to the bowler which he'd cut for twos and threes if he was left to himself. I only hope that they won't knock all the style out of him before they're done with him. you see. The whole thing is. They aren't going to play Master Mike because he'll be in the England team when he leaves school. didn't he. Of Mike's style there could be no doubt. but then he can hit 'em harder when he does hit 'em. What are they like?" "Well. miss. and it stands to reason they're stronger. Master Mike? Play. a sort of pageant. only all I say is don't count on it. miss. every bit. isn't he? And Bob's almost certain to get in this term." Saunders looked a little doubtful. It would be a record if he did." "No. in a manner of speaking.

and he was nothing special. It might be true that some day he would play for England. (At the very moment when the train began to glide out of the station Uncle John was heard to remark that. the village idiot. and a pair of pince-nez gave him a supercilious look. He had been petitioning the home authorities for the past year to be allowed to leave his private school and go to Wrykyn. by all accounts. Bob. and if he himself were likely to do anything at cricket. Uncle John said on second thoughts he wasn't sure these Bocks weren't half a bad smoke after all. It seemed almost hopeless to try and compete with these unknown experts. Donaldson's. Jackson's anxious look lent a fine solemnity to the proceedings. The air was full of last messages. Marjory had faithfully reported every word Saunders had said on the subject. A sort of mist enveloped everything Wrykynian. who had been spending the last week of the holidays with an aunt further down the line. the train drew up at a small station. but Bob had been so careful to point out his insignificance when compared with the humblest Wrykynian that the professional's glowing prophecies had not had much effect. While he was engaged on these reflections. these Bocks weren't a patch on the old shaped Larranaga. The train gathered speed. in his opinion. To their coarse-fibred minds there was nothing pathetic or tragic about the affair at all. Meanwhile. The latter were not numerous. and made no exception to their rule on the present occasion. According to Bob they had no earthly. with rather a prominent nose. more particularly when the departing hero has a brother on the verge of the school eleven and three other brothers playing for counties. but then Bob only recognised one house. He was alone in the carriage. and now the thing had come about. Gladys Maud cried. and his reflections. and Mrs. On the other hand. in time to come down with a handsome tip).the beginning of the summer term. Mr. however. and Ella invariably broke down when the time of separation arrived. and Mike seemed in no way disturbed by the prospect. was to board the train at East Wobsley. Mike was left to his milk chocolate. there was Bob. frankly bored with the whole business. to the end of time will foster a secret fear that their sons will be bullied at a big school. practising late cuts rather coyly with a walking-stick in the background. as did Mike's Uncle John (providentially roped in at the eleventh hour on his way to Scotland. was on the verge of the first eleven. because she had taken a sudden dislike to the village idiot. a suitable gloom was the keynote of the gathering. Gladys Maud Evangeline's nurse. He wondered if Bob would get his first eleven cap this year. though evidently some years older. smiling vaguely. his magazines. Bob. He wondered what sort of a house Wain's was. Opposite the door of Mike's compartment was standing a boy of about Mike's size. and whether they had any chance of the cricket cup. and Mike settled himself in the corner and opened a magazine. Jackson seemed to bear the parting with fortitude. who had rolled up on the chance of a dole. but just at present he felt he would exchange his place in the team for one in the Wrykyn third eleven. and Gladys Maud Evangeline herself. He had a sharp face. is no great hardship. Phyllis. He wore a bowler hat.) Among others present might have been noticed Saunders. Mothers. And as Marjory. He was excited. and the brothers were to make a state entry into Wrykyn together. and carried a small . nor profound.

. then. stared at Mike again. Anyhow. I regret to say. If he wanted a magazine. The train was just moving out of the station when his eye was suddenly caught by the stranger's bag. He realised in an instant what had happened." The youth drew his head and shoulders in. and took the seat opposite to Mike. instead. which is always fatal. the most supercilious person on earth has a right to his own property." "Sir?" "Are those frightful boxes of mine in all right?" "Yes. but he did not feel equal to offering him one of his magazines. and wondered if he wanted anything. the bag had better be returned at once. "Porter." said Mike to himself. sir. "Where's that porter?" Mike heard him say. He did not like the looks of him particularly. there'll be a frightful row if any of them get lost. after all. He had all the Englishman's love of a carriage to himself. That explained his magazineless condition. let him ask for it. sir. he might have been quite a nice fellow when you got to know him. he seemed to carry enough side for three. thought Mike." "Because. Mike had not been greatly fascinated by the stranger's looks. The other made no overtures. Judging by appearances. He snatched the bag from the rack and hurled it out of the window." "Thank you.portmanteau. whom he scrutinised for a moment rather after the fashion of a naturalist examining some new and unpleasant variety of beetle. got up and looked through the open window. The fellow had forgotten his bag." "Here you are. you know. The trainwas already moving quite fast. and finally sat down. He was only travelling a short way." "No chance of that. lying snugly in the rack. And here. The porter came skimming down the platform at that moment. Mike noticed that he had nothing to read. Besides. Mike acted from the best motives. "Good business. He seemed about to make some remark. but. He opened the door. and at the next stop got out. sir. but. and Mike's compartment was nearing the end of the platform.

looking out of the window. though not intentionally so. The bereaved owner disapproved of this levity. you little beast. I say. where's my frightful bag?" Life teems with embarrassing situations." "Chucked it out! what do you mean? When?" "At the last station. You go chucking bags that don't belong to you out of the window. Mike grinned at the recollection. It hit a porter. "Then. * * * * * The glow lasted till the next stoppage. "I'm awfully sorry." "Where _is_ the bag?" "On the platform at the last station." The guard blew his whistle. and then you have the frightful cheek to grin about it. "Only the porter looked awfully funny when it hit him. "I thought you'd got out there for good. But fortunately at this moment the train stopped once again.(Porter Robinson." The situation was becoming difficult. The look on Porter Robinson's face as the bag took him in the small of the back had been funny." explained Mike. "Hullo. A moment later Bob's head appeared in the doorway. for the train had scarcely come to a standstill when the opening above the door was darkened by a head and shoulders. for he wished to treat the matter with fitting solemnity." said Mike." Against his will. "Have you changed carriages. and a pair of pince-nez gleamed from the shadow. What you want is a frightful kicking." said Mike hurriedly. and said as much. This was one of them. ." "Dash the porter! What's going to happen about my bag? I can't get out for half a second to buy a magazine without your flinging my things about the platform. who happened to be in the line of fire." said Mike. or what?" "No. "Don't _grin_." said the stranger. Then it ceased abruptly. escaped with a flesh wound. "I chucked it out. which did not occur for a good many miles." he shouted. The head was surmounted by a bowler. Mike saw a board with East Wobsley upon it in large letters. and the other jumped into the carriage. dash it. and. "The fact is." "It wasn't that.) Then he sat down again with the inward glow of satisfaction which comes to one when one has risen successfully to a sudden emergency. "There's nothing to laugh at.

listening the while. Bob and Firby-Smith talked of Wrykyn. Firby-Smith continued to look ruffled. They were discussing Wain's now. I chucked Firby-Smith's portmanteau out of the window. Good cricketer and footballer. and it's at a station miles back. "Oh. "I've made rather an ass of myself. what happened was this. there you are. "He and Wain never get on very well. He's in your house. I say. His eye fell upon Mike's companion. never mind." From this point onwards Mike was out of the conversation altogether. though not aggressive. holidays as well as term." said Bob. and all that sort of thing. only he hadn't really." "Naturally. what have you been doing in the holidays? I didn't know you lived on this line at all." said Mike. if I were in Wyatt's place. are you in Wain's?" he said. then it's certain to be all right. He grinned again. and that he was going into it directly after the end of this term." agreed Firby-Smith. I mean. it's all right. Gazeka!" he exclaimed. "Hullo. He realised that school politics were being talked. Gazeka?" "Yes." "I mean." said Bob. "Where did you spring from? Do you know my brother? He's coming to Wrykyn this term." "Oh. and that contributions from him to the dialogue were not required. He took up his magazine again. Lots of things in it I wanted. Bob." "Frightful. discussing events of the previous term of which Mike had never heard." "Oh. The name Wyatt cropped up with some frequency. and yet they have to be together. Pretty bad having a step-father at all--I shouldn't care to--and when your house-master and your step-father are the same man. Firby-Smith's head of Wain's." Mike gathered that Gazeka and Firby-Smith were one and the same person." "Frightful nuisance. aren't you? Had it got your name and address on it. "I swear. rather lucky you've met. all the same. and you'll get it either to-night or to-morrow. thinking he'd got out. It's bound to turn up some time. Names came into their conversation which were entirely new to him. "It must be pretty rotten for him."Hullo. I should rot about like anything. He told me last term that Wain had got a nomination for him in some beastly bank." "You're a bit of a rotter. By the way. It isn't as if he'd anything to look forward to when he leaves. They'll send it on by the next train. Mike. Mention was made of rows in which he had played a part in the past. Rather rough on a chap like Wyatt. Wyatt was apparently something of a character. It's just the sort . it's a bit thick. "I say.

"Firby-Smith and I are just going to get some tea." he said. Go in which direction he would. Plainly a Wrykynian. all more or less straight. Go straight on. "Any one'll tell you the way to the school. There was no disguising the fact that he would be in the way. Probably he really does imagine that he goes straight on. Mike started out boldly. They'll send your luggage on later. leaving him to find his way for himself. and tell you all about things. To the man who knows. and looked about him. ignoring the fact that for him the choice of three roads. and a straw hat with a coloured band." Bob looked at Mike. with a happy inspiration. I suppose they think there'd be nothing to do." And his sole prop in this world of strangers departed." he concluded airily. which is your dorm. . Hullo. that the platform was entirely free from Wrykynians. Probably Wain will want to see you." Mike looked out of the window. I think you'd better nip up to the school. "Heaps of them must come by this line. Mike. At this moment a ray of hope shone through the gloom. Mike made for him. In all the stories he had read the whole school came back by the same train. There is no subject on which opinions differ so widely as this matter of finding the way to a place. and." "What shall _we_ do?" said Bob. But here they were alone. but how convey this fact delicately to him? "Look here. it is simplicity itself. On the fourth repetition of this feat he stopped in a disheartened way. and lost his way. and it's the only Christian train they run. he always seemed to arrive at a square with a fountain and an equestrian statue in its centre.of life he'll hate most." "Don't want to get here before the last minute they can possibly manage. The man who does not know feels as if he were in a maze. and so on. CHAPTER III MIKE FINDS A FRIENDLY NATIVE Mike was surprised to find. Silly idea. The man might at least have shown him where to get some tea. A remark of Bob's to Firby-Smith explained this. "Can't make out why none of the fellows came back by this train. He was beginning to feel bitter towards Bob. "Come and have some tea at Cook's?" "All right. So long. See you later. It was Wrykyn at last. has no perplexities. Crossing the square was a short. thick-set figure clad in grey flannel trousers. a blue blazer. having smashed in one another's hats and chaffed the porters. here we are. made their way to the school buildings in a solid column. on alighting." he said.

" "Who's your brother?" "Jackson. What I don't know about Wain's isn't worth knowing." "Oh. He felt that they saw the humour in things." He was in terror lest he should seem to be bragging." said Mike. You know." said Mike. this is fame. as the ass in the detective story always says to the detective. He had a pleasant." said Mike awkwardly. And . How did you know my name. too?" "I played a bit at my last school. too?" "Am I not! Term _and_ holidays. He's in Donaldson's. You can't quite raise a team. then? Are you a sort of young Tyldesley. "Pity. you're going to the school. A stout fellow. and a pair of very deep-set grey eyes which somehow put Mike at his ease. please. latest model. "Oh. with all the modern improvements? Are there any more of you?" "Not brothers." said the other. reminiscent of a good-tempered bull-dog." added Mike modestly. you know. "Been hunting for it long?" "Yes." "Wain's? Then you've come to the right man this time."Can you tell me the way to the school. There was something singularly cool and genial about them. "You look rather lost." said the stranger." "I know. you know. "It was only against kids. are you Wyatt. and that their owner was a person who liked most people and whom most people liked. then?" asked Mike. "Which house do you want?" "Wain's. who's seen it in the lining of his hat? Who's been talking about me?" "I heard my brother saying something about you in the train. "Make any runs? What was your best score?" "Hundred and twenty-three. Only a private school. it was really awfully rotten bowling. square-jawed face." he said. shuffling. Any more centuries?" "Yes. There's no close season for me. "How many?" "Seven altogether. "That's pretty useful." said Mike. So you're the newest make of Jackson." "Are you there. "Hullo.

He's head of Wain's.I was a good bit bigger than most of the chaps there. which gave me a bit of an advantage. a shade too narrow . At the top of the hill came the school. "My brother and Firby-Smith have gone to a place called Cook's. too. At Emsworth. The next terrace was the biggest of all." "Oh. seven centuries isn't so dusty against any bowling. They skirted the cricket field. though no games were played on it. Mike's first impression on arriving at the school grounds was of his smallness and insignificance. I was just going to have some tea. I believe. down in the Easter holidays. To make his entrance into this strange land alone would have been more of an ordeal than he would have cared to face. And my pater always has a pro. pointing to one of half a dozen large houses which lined the road on the south side of the cricket field. "He's got a habit of talking to one as if he were a prince of the blood dropping a gracious word to one of the three Small-Heads at the Hippodrome. It is always delicate work answering a question like this unless one has some sort of an inkling as to the views of the questioner. "That's Wain's. Let's go in here. the grounds." "What's King-Hall's?" "The private school I was at." "All the same." he said. Mike followed his finger." "Yes. where. answering for himself. That's his. but that's his misfortune. He felt out of the picture. thanks awfully. On the first terrace was a sort of informal practice ground. and formed the first eleven cricket ground. We all have our troubles. cut out of the hill. "Don't you think he looks like one? What did you think of him?" "I didn't speak to him much. It's too far to sweat to Cook's. "How many fellows are there in it?" "Thirty-one this term. a beautiful piece of turf. "I say. "He's all right." "That's more than there were at King-Hall's. He was glad that he had met Wyatt. and took in the size of his new home." It was about a mile from the tea-shop to the school." Emsworth seemed very remote and unreal to him as he spoke. You come along." "The old Gazeka? I didn't know he lived in your part of the world. everything. Look here. "Why is he called Gazeka?" he asked after a pause." said Mike. Everything looked so big--the buildings." said Mike cautiously." said Wyatt." said Mike. there was a good deal of punting and drop-kicking in the winter and fielding-practice in the summer. walking along the path that divided the two terraces. it's jolly big. I know." said Wyatt. The Wrykyn playing-fields were formed of a series of huge steps. We shall want some batting in the house this term.

for its length, bounded on the terrace side by a sharply sloping bank, some fifteen feet deep, and on the other by the precipice leading to the next terrace. At the far end of the ground stood the pavilion, and beside it a little ivy-covered rabbit-hutch for the scorers. Old Wrykynians always claimed that it was the prettiest school ground in England. It certainly had the finest view. From the verandah of the pavilion you could look over three counties. Wain's house wore an empty and desolate appearance. There were signs of activity, however, inside; and a smell of soap and warm water told of preparations recently completed. Wyatt took Mike into the matron's room, a small room opening out of the main passage. "This is Jackson," he said. "Which dormitory is he in, Miss Payne?" The matron consulted a paper. "He's in yours, Wyatt." "Good business. Who's in the other bed? There are going to be three of us, aren't there?" "Fereira was to have slept there, but we have just heard that he is not coming back this term. He has had to go on a sea-voyage for his health." "Seems queer any one actually taking the trouble to keep Fereira in the world," said Wyatt. "I've often thought of giving him Rough On Rats myself. Come along, Jackson, and I'll show you the room." They went along the passage, and up a flight of stairs. "Here you are," said Wyatt. It was a fair-sized room. The window, heavily barred, looked out over a large garden. "I used to sleep here alone last term," said Wyatt, "but the house is so full now they've turned it into a dormitory." "I say, I wish these bars weren't here. It would be rather a rag to get out of the window on to that wall at night, and hop down into the garden and explore," said Mike. Wyatt looked at him curiously, and moved to the window. "I'm not going to let you do it, of course," he said, "because you'd go getting caught, and dropped on, which isn't good for one in one's first term; but just to amuse you----" He jerked at the middle bar, and the next moment he was standing with it in his hand, and the way to the garden was clear. "By Jove!" said Mike. "That's simply an object-lesson, you know," said Wyatt, replacing the bar, and pushing the screws back into their putty. "I get out at night myself because I think my health needs it. Besides, it's my last term,

anyhow, so it doesn't matter what I do. But if I find you trying to cut out in the small hours, there'll be trouble. See?" "All right," said Mike, reluctantly. "But I wish you'd let me." "Not if I know it. Promise you won't try it on." "All right. But, I say, what do you do out there?" "I shoot at cats with an air-pistol, the beauty of which is that even if you hit them it doesn't hurt--simply keeps them bright and interested in life; and if you miss you've had all the fun anyhow. Have you ever shot at a rocketing cat? Finest mark you can have. Society's latest craze. Buy a pistol and see life." "I wish you'd let me come." "I daresay you do. Not much, however. Now, if you like, I'll take you over the rest of the school. You'll have to see it sooner or later, so you may as well get it over at once."

CHAPTER IV AT THE NETS There are few better things in life than a public school summer term. The winter term is good, especially towards the end, and there are points, though not many, about the Easter term: but it is in the summer that one really appreciates public school life. The freedom of it, after the restrictions of even the most easy-going private school, is intoxicating. The change is almost as great as that from public school to 'Varsity. For Mike the path was made particularly easy. The only drawback to going to a big school for the first time is the fact that one is made to feel so very small and inconspicuous. New boys who have been leading lights at their private schools feel it acutely for the first week. At one time it was the custom, if we may believe writers of a generation or so back, for boys to take quite an embarrassing interest in the newcomer. He was asked a rain of questions, and was, generally, in the very centre of the stage. Nowadays an absolute lack of interest is the fashion. A new boy arrives, and there he is, one of a crowd. Mike was saved this salutary treatment to a large extent, at first by virtue of the greatness of his family, and, later, by his own performances on the cricket field. His three elder brothers were objects of veneration to most Wrykynians, and Mike got a certain amount of reflected glory from them. The brother of first-class cricketers has a dignity of his own. Then Bob was a help. He was on the verge of the cricket team and had been the school full-back for two seasons. Mike found that people came up and spoke to him, anxious to know if he were Jackson's brother; and became friendly when he replied in the affirmative. Influential relations are a help in every stage of life. It was Wyatt who gave him his first chance at cricket. There were nets

on the first afternoon of term for all old colours of the three teams and a dozen or so of those most likely to fill the vacant places. Wyatt was there, of course. He had got his first eleven cap in the previous season as a mighty hitter and a fair slow bowler. Mike met him crossing the field with his cricket bag. "Hullo, where are you off to?" asked Wyatt. "Coming to watch the nets?" Mike had no particular programme for the afternoon. Junior cricket had not begun, and it was a little difficult to know how to fill in the time. "I tell you what," said Wyatt, "nip into the house and shove on some things, and I'll try and get Burgess to let you have a knock later on." This suited Mike admirably. A quarter of an hour later he was sitting at the back of the first eleven net, watching the practice. Burgess, the captain of the Wrykyn team, made no pretence of being a bat. He was the school fast bowler and concentrated his energies on that department of the game. He sometimes took ten minutes at the wicket after everybody else had had an innings, but it was to bowl that he came to the nets. He was bowling now to one of the old colours whose name Mike did not know. Wyatt and one of the professionals were the other two bowlers. Two nets away Firby-Smith, who had changed his pince-nez for a pair of huge spectacles, was performing rather ineffectively against some very bad bowling. Mike fixed his attention on the first eleven man. He was evidently a good bat. There was style and power in his batting. He had a way of gliding Burgess's fastest to leg which Mike admired greatly. He was succeeded at the end of a quarter of an hour by another eleven man, and then Bob appeared. It was soon made evident that this was not Bob's day. Nobody is at his best on the first day of term; but Bob was worse than he had any right to be. He scratched forward at nearly everything, and when Burgess, who had been resting, took up the ball again, he had each stump uprooted in a regular series in seven balls. Once he skied one of Wyatt's slows over the net behind the wicket; and Mike, jumping up, caught him neatly. "Thanks," said Bob austerely, as Mike returned the ball to him. He seemed depressed. Towards the end of the afternoon, Wyatt went up to Burgess. "Burgess," he said, "see that kid sitting behind the net?" "With the naked eye," said Burgess. "Why?" "He's just come to Wain's. He's Bob Jackson's brother, and I've a sort of idea that he's a bit of a bat. I told him I'd ask you if he could have a knock. Why not send him in at the end net? There's nobody there now." Burgess's amiability off the field equalled his ruthlessness when

bowling. "All right," he said. "Only if you think that I'm going to sweat to bowl to him, you're making a fatal error." "You needn't do a thing. Just sit and watch. I rather fancy this kid's something special." * * * * *

Mike put on Wyatt's pads and gloves, borrowed his bat, and walked round into the net. "Not in a funk, are you?" asked Wyatt, as he passed. Mike grinned. The fact was that he had far too good an opinion of himself to be nervous. An entirely modest person seldom makes a good batsman. Batting is one of those things which demand first and foremost a thorough belief in oneself. It need not be aggressive, but it must be there. Wyatt and the professional were the bowlers. Mike had seen enough of Wyatt's bowling to know that it was merely ordinary "slow tosh," and the professional did not look as difficult as Saunders. The first half-dozen balls he played carefully. He was on trial, and he meant to take no risks. Then the professional over-pitched one slightly on the off. Mike jumped out, and got the full face of the bat on to it. The ball hit one of the ropes of the net, and nearly broke it. "How's that?" said Wyatt, with the smile of an impresario on the first night of a successful piece. "Not bad," admitted Burgess. A few moments later he was still more complimentary. He got up and took a ball himself. Mike braced himself up as Burgess began his run. This time he was more than a trifle nervous. The bowling he had had so far had been tame. This would be the real ordeal. As the ball left Burgess's hand he began instinctively to shape for a forward stroke. Then suddenly he realised that the thing was going to be a yorker, and banged his bat down in the block just as the ball arrived. An unpleasant sensation as of having been struck by a thunderbolt was succeeded by a feeling of relief that he had kept the ball out of his wicket. There are easier things in the world than stopping a fast yorker. "Well played," said Burgess. Mike felt like a successful general receiving the thanks of the nation. The fact that Burgess's next ball knocked middle and off stumps out of the ground saddened him somewhat; but this was the last tragedy that occurred. He could not do much with the bowling beyond stopping it and feeling repetitions of the thunderbolt experience, but he kept up his end; and a short conversation which he had with Burgess at the end of his innings was full of encouragement to one skilled in reading

between the lines. "Thanks awfully," said Mike, referring to the square manner in which the captain had behaved in letting him bat. "What school were you at before you came here?" asked Burgess. "A private school in Hampshire," said Mike. "King-Hall's. At a place called Emsworth." "Get much cricket there?" "Yes, a good lot. One of the masters, a chap called Westbrook, was an awfully good slow bowler." Burgess nodded. "You don't run away, which is something," he said. Mike turned purple with pleasure at this stately compliment. Then, having waited for further remarks, but gathering from the captain's silence that the audience was at an end, he proceeded to unbuckle his pads. Wyatt overtook him on his way to the house. "Well played," he said. "I'd no idea you were such hot stuff. You're a regular pro." "I say," said Mike gratefully, "it was most awfully decent of you getting Burgess to let me go in. It was simply ripping of you." "Oh, that's all right. If you don't get pushed a bit here you stay for ages in the hundredth game with the cripples and the kids. Now you've shown them what you can do you ought to get into the Under Sixteen team straight away. Probably into the third, too." "By Jove, that would be all right." "I asked Burgess afterwards what he thought of your batting, and he said, 'Not bad.' But he says that about everything. It's his highest form of praise. He says it when he wants to let himself go and simply butter up a thing. If you took him to see N. A. Knox bowl, he'd say he wasn't bad. What he meant was that he was jolly struck with your batting, and is going to play you for the Under Sixteen." "I hope so," said Mike. The prophecy was fulfilled. On the following Wednesday there was a match between the Under Sixteen and a scratch side. Mike's name was among the Under Sixteen. And on the Saturday he was playing for the third eleven in a trial game. "This place is ripping," he said to himself, as he saw his name on the list. "Thought I should like it." And that night he wrote a letter to his father, notifying him of the fact.

He knew quite well that he was regarded as a find by the cricket authorities. He was older than the average new boy. and his batting was undeniable. And when Mike was pleased with life he always found a difficulty in obeying Authority and its rules. and the knowledge was not particularly good for him. The effect it had on him was to make him excessively pleased with life. Some evil genius put it into Bob's mind that it was his duty to be. The arrival of tea was the cue for conversation. "Thanks. in which his mother had assumed without evidence that he was leading Mike by the hand round the pitfalls of life at Wrykyn. half-defiant manner peculiar to small brothers in the presence of their elders. and if it comes before we are prepared for it. Bob was changing into his cricket things. how are you getting on?" asked Bob. It is never the smallest use for an elder brother to attempt to do anything for the good of a younger brother at school. It did not make him conceited." said Mike. and his conscience smote him. all right." "Cake?" "Thanks. and stared in silence at the photographs on the walls. His state of mind was not improved by an interview with Bob. all right"). he was not aware of having done anything brotherly towards the youngster. "Well. He only knew that he had received a letter from home.CHAPTER V REVELRY BY NIGHT A succession of events combined to upset Mike during his first fortnight at school. if only for one performance. for his was not a nature at all addicted to conceit. "Sugar?" asked Bob. "Oh." . but Bob did not know this. The atmosphere was one of constraint and awkwardness. He was far more successful than he had any right to be at his age. sidling into the study in the half-sheepish. please. "Oh. Silence. Beyond asking him occasionally. it is apt to throw us off our balance. Mike arrived. to give him good advice. when they met. years of wholesome obscurity make us ready for any small triumphs we may achieve at the end of our time there. at school. There is nothing more heady than success. the Heavy Elder Brother to Mike. how he was getting on (a question to which Mike invariably replied." said Mike. "How many lumps?" "Two. So he asked Mike to tea in his study one afternoon before going to the nets. for the latter rebels automatically against such interference in his concerns. Mike had skipped these years. As a rule.

" said Bob." said Mike. I should keep an eye on myself if I were you." Bob saw an opening for the entry of the Heavy Elder Brother." added Bob. of the third eleven!!! Mike helped himself to another chunk of cake. He was only doing it now to ease his conscience." he said. I'm not saying anything against you so far. You know. I'm not saying a word against you so far. filled his cup. I should take care what . What I mean to say is. "Yes." Mike's feelings were too deep for words. "I can look after myself all right. "He said he'd look after you. Look after him! Him!! M. There's nothing that gets a chap so barred here as side. in the third and so on." said Mike cautiously. making things worse." "What do you mean?" said Mike." "I asked Firby-Smith to keep an eye on you." he said. of course. you've got on so well at cricket. "Seen you about with Wyatt a good deal. "Oh. Only you see what I mean. and spoke crushingly. "Like Wain's?" "Ripping. "He needn't trouble. and cast about him for further words of wisdom. In sombre silence he reached out for the jam. outraged. Mike." said Bob. "Yes?" said Mike coldly. while Bob. if you don't watch yourself.Silence. Jackson. "What!" said Mike. there's just a chance you might start to side about a bit soon. "Like him?" "Yes. "Look here. "I'm only saying it for your good----" I should like to state here that it was not Bob's habit to go about the world telling people things solely for their good. The mere idea of a worm like the Gazeka being told to keep an eye on _him_ was degrading. thanks. "You've been all right up to now. "You know. Bob pulled himself together. "I shouldn't--I mean. satisfied that he had delivered his message in a pleasant and tactful manner." he said at length. "It's only this." said Bob.

"I've been hearing all about you. if you want any more tea. I'm going over to the nets. "What rot!" said Mike. It was maddening to be treated as an infant who had to be looked after. "You're a frightful character from all accounts. I mean. Not that he would try to. but tact did not enter greatly into his composition. spoke again. of course." said the Gazeka. You'd better be going and changing. it doesn't matter much for him. and the first thing you knew you'd be dropped on by Wain or somebody. That youth. But you might think it was the blood thing to do to imitate him. turning round and examining himself in the mirror again. But don't you go doing it." Mike could not think of anything to say that was not rude. I see Burgess has shoved you down for them." Mike's soul began to tie itself into knots again. because he's leaving at the end of the term. "Your brother has asked me to keep an eye on you." Mike followed him in silence to his study. I've got to be off myself." "What do you mean?" "Well. so said nothing. (Mike disliked being called "young man. but if you go on breaking rules you're bound to be sooner or later. young man. Don't cheek your . He's that sort of chap. and preserved his silence till Firby-Smith. "You'll get on all right if you behave yourself. Don't make a frightful row in the house. He doesn't care a hang what he does. Thing is. followed by some strenuous fielding in the deep.") "Come up to my study. though." Mike shuffled." Mike changed for net-practice in a ferment of spiritual injury. having deposited his cricket-bag in a corner of the room and examined himself carefully in a looking-glass that hung over the mantelpiece. He felt very sore against're doing with Wyatt. and all might have been well but for the intervention of Firby-Smith. He was just at the age when one is most sensitive to patronage and most resentful of it. He's never been dropped on yet. "I promised I would. soothed his ruffled feelings to a large extent. but still----" "Still what?" "Well." he said. A good innings at the third eleven net. all spectacles and front teeth. young man. he's the sort of chap who'll probably get into some thundering row before he leaves. But don't let him drag you into anything. met Mike at the door of Wain's. See what I mean?" Bob was well-intentioned. "Ah. Stick on here a bit. I wanted to see you. he's an awfully good chap. "All right.

with or without an air-pistol. but he . laying the bar he had extracted on the window-sill. or night rather." "Are you going out?" "I am. but with rage and all that sort of thing. Wyatt?" "Are you awake?" said Wyatt. You'll find that useful when the time comes. Cut along. He opened his eyes. Like Eric. "Hullo. Wash. would just have suited Mike's mood. "Is that you. He turned over on his side and shut his eyes." And Wyatt. Overcoming this feeling." "Do you think you will be caught?" "Shouldn't be surprised. wriggled out. Then you'll be able to put your hand on your little heart and do a big George Washington act. by a slight sound. but he had never felt wider awake. Go to sleep and dream that you're playing for the school against Ripton. and the second time he gave up the struggle. he burned. "Sorry if I've spoiled your beauty sleep. So long. I shall be deadly. just the sort of night on which. Twice he heard the quarters chime from the school clock. Specially as there's a good moon. if he had been at home. Anyhow. of wanting to do something actively illegal. not with shame and remorse. "When I'm caught. can't I come too?" A moonlight prowl. but it was not so easy to do it. He sat up in bed. He got out of bed and went to the window." "I say. A sharp yowl from an unseen cat told of Wyatt's presence somewhere in the big garden. too." said Wyatt. That's all. * * * * * It was all very well for Wyatt to tell him to go to sleep. and Mike always found it difficult to sleep unless it was dark. It was a lovely night." he said.elders and betters. The room was almost light. they're bound to ask if you've ever been out as well as me. He dropped off to sleep full of half-formed plans for asserting himself. increased. "No." said Wyatt. you stay where you are. and saw a dark figure silhouetted against the light of the window. He would have given much to be with him. he would have been out after moths with a lantern. you can't. and hitting it into space every time. Mustn't miss a chance like this. he walked out of the room. as I'm morally certain to be some day. "The cats are particularly strong on the wing just now." Mike had a vague idea of sacrificing his career to the momentary pleasure of flinging a chair at the head of the house. * * * * * In the dormitory that night the feeling of revolt. and up to his dormitory to change. Mike saw him disappearing along the wall. He was awakened from a dream in which he was batting against Firby-Smith's bowling.

To make himself more secure he locked that door. It would be quite safe. And there must be all sorts of things to interest the visitor in Wain's part of the house. Wain's. Field actually did so. a voice from the machine announced that Mr. There was a little soda-water in the syphon. He had given his word that he would not go into the garden. On a table in one corner stood a small gramophone. _". Field). turning up the incandescent light. _what was that?"_ It was a rattling at the handle of the door. Mike cut himself some cheese and took some biscuits from the box. He had promised not to leave the house. Godfrey Field would sing "The Quaint Old Bird. or he may have been in a particularly reckless mood. All thought of risk left him. The fact remains that _he_ inserted the first record that came to hand. after a few preliminary chords. The man who holds the ace of trumps has no . And this was where the trouble began. in spite of the fact that all was darkness. Mr. He was not alarmed. Good gracious_ (sang Mr. A voice accompanied the banging."_ Mike stood and drained it in. And gramophones happened to be Mike's particular craze. Everybody would be in bed. along the passage to the left. but nothing had been said about exploring inside the house. and up a few more stairs at the end The beauty of the position was that the dining-room had two doors. and set it going. He took some more biscuits. Down the stairs. The next moment. consoling thought came to him. Food. he examined the room. And there were bound to be biscuits on the sideboard in Wain's dining-room. but nobody else in the house appeared to have noticed it. "Who is there?" inquired the voice. A rattling that turned almost immediately into a spirited banging. wound the machine up. He had been long enough in the house to know the way. he proceeded to look about him. very loud and nasal. then. He turned away from the window and sat down on his bed. Mr. It was quite late now.. This was Life.. perhaps. and there was an end of it. The soda-water may have got into his head. After which. _"Auntie went to Aldershot in a Paris pom-pom hat. the other into the boys' section. and an apple. Then a beautiful. He finished it." And. Mike recognised it as Mr. Mike felt that he could just do with a biscuit. feeling a new man.realised that he was on parole. There were the remains of supper on the table. Any interruption that there might be would come from the further door. it made a noise that seemed to him like three hundred Niagaras. one leading into Wain's part of the house. as indeed he was. He crept quietly out of the dormitory. feeling that he was doing himself well. As it swished into the glass. Wain's dining-room repaid inspection.

blissfully unconscious of what was going on indoors. and he'd locked one door. The main point. So long as the frontal attack was kept up. He would be caught for a certainty! CHAPTER VI IN WHICH A TIGHT CORNER IS EVADED For a moment the situation paralysed Mike. It seemed a pity to evacuate the position and ring down the curtain on what was. and it might flash upon their minds that there were two entrances to the room. and dashed down the dark stairs. If." The answer was simple. while the other door offered an admirable and instantaneous way of escape. "Now what. there was no chance of his being taken in the rear--his only danger. and he sat up. when suddenly a gruesome idea came to him. At any moment the noise might bring reinforcements to the besieging force. Suppose Wain took it into his head to make a tour of the dormitories. he must keep Mr. and could get away by the other. Raffles have done in a case like this? Suppose he'd been after somebody's jewels. Then he began to be equal to it. to see that all was well! Wyatt was still in the garden somewhere. Mike had not read his "Raffles" for nothing. just in time." pondered Mike. This was good. to date. the kernel of the whole thing. And at the same time. and he could hear somebody moving inside the room. breathless. and reflected. tingling all over with the consciousness of having played a masterly game. The handle-rattling was resumed. found that the occupant had retired by way of the boys' part of the house. but he must not overdo the thing. J. for the dining-room was a long way from the dormitories. He had taken care to close the dining-room door after him. on entering the room. Two minutes later he was in bed. His position was impregnable. which had been pegging away patiently at "The Quaint Old Bird" all the time. It had occurred to him." thought Mike. He lay there. The enemy was held in check by the locked door. Mike crept across the room on tip-toe and opened the window. Evidently his . he might possibly obtain a clue to his identity.need to be alarmed. Wain. He stopped the gramophone. Wain from coming to the dormitory. suspicion would be diverted. was that he must get into the garden somehow. It was open now. and get caught. and warn Wyatt. In times of excitement one thinks rapidly and clearly. the most exciting episode of his life. and found that they were after him. that if Mr. he opened the window. "would A. Or the same bright thought might come to Wain himself. on the other hand. though it was not likely. He jumped out of bed. "He'd clear out.

"Thought I heard a noise. of course not. thin man. please. "_Me_. in spite of his anxiety." "A noise?" "A row. please." "Looks like it. He spun round at the knock." said Mike. I don't know why I asked. The house-master's giant brain still appeared to be somewhat clouded. What are you doing here?" "Thought I heard a noise. sir.retreat had been made just in time." "I found the window open." said Mike. catching sight of the gramophone. could barely check a laugh. He was prepared to continue the snappy dialogue till breakfast time. a row. His hair was ruffled. and. and stared in astonishment at Mike's pyjama-clad figure. "I think there must have been a burglar in here. "Of course not. Mr. Wain continued to stare. sir!" said Mike. Mr." "You thought you heard----!" The thing seemed to be worrying Mr. His body was wrapped in a brown dressing-gown. All this is very unsettling. Wain hurriedly. drew inspiration from it. "So I came down. looking out. through which he peered owlishly at Mike. He knocked at the door. Mike. He looked like some weird bird. sir. I thought I heard a noise." If it was Mr. sir. sir." . Wain. it was not for him to baulk the house-master's innocent pleasure. "Please. and went in." said Mr. He wore spectacles." "A noise?" "Please. "What are you doing here?" said he at last. with the air of a bishop accused of contributing to the _Police News_. Wain's wish that he should spend the night playing Massa Tambo to his Massa Bones. sir. "Did you turn on the gramophone?" he asked. Wain was standing at the window. "Of course not. sir. Wain was a tall. Mr. sir. He looked about him. with a serious face partially obscured by a grizzled beard. Jackson.

An inarticulate protest from Mr. Wain. rendered speechless by this move just as he had been beginning to recover his faculties." said Mr. I mean. eliciting sharp howls of pain. sir." said Wyatt." cried Mike. His knees were covered with mould. _"Et tu. Wyatt? I say----" "Jackson!" The moon came out again. sir. and hit Mike smartly over the shins. Wain. He felt that all was well." Mr. "Not likely." "Yes."He's probably in the garden. "You young ass. as who should say. ruminatively." "You think not?" "Wouldn't be such a fool. then tore for the regions at the back. The moon had gone behind the clouds. but----" "I heard you crashing through the shrubbery like a hundred elephants. I know. and he was running across the lawn into the shrubbery. such an ass. and Mike saw Wyatt clearly. Mike worked his way cautiously through these till he was out of sight. "Is that you. "You promised me that you wouldn't get out. If you _must_ get out at night and chance being sacked." "Perhaps you are right. Brute!"_ "By Jove! I think I see him. and vaulted through it on to the lawn. "Who on earth's that?" it said. "He might be still in the house. On the second of these occasions a low voice spoke from somewhere on his right. and the problem was how to get back without being seen from the dining-room window. Twice branches sprang out from nowhere. He ran to the window. and it was not easy to find a way through the bushes. He had evidently been crouching in the bushes on all fours." Mr. Wyatt was round at the back somewhere. as if its behaviour in letting burglars be in it struck him as unworthy of a respectable garden. There might be a bit of a row on his return. sir. Fortunately a belt of evergreens ran along the path right up to the house. Wain looked out into the garden with an annoyed expression. but he could always plead overwhelming excitement. sir. Jackson. sir. you might . Mike stopped. Wain looked at the shrubbery." "I shouldn't wonder if he was hiding in the shrubbery.

sir. you might come down too. It is exceedingly impertinent of you. You must tread like a policeman.' Ripping it was. "I couldn't find him. sir. it was rather a rotten thing to do. It started playing 'The Quaint Old Bird. drinking in the beauties of the summer night through the open window." he said. "But how the dickens did he hear you. Then it'll be all right if Wain comes and looks into the dorm. and I'll go back to the dining-room. You will do me two hundred lines. Come in at once. Wain was still in the dining-room." "You--_what?_" "The gramophone." "Please. "It's miles from his bedroom. You dash along then. sir. boy? You are laying the seeds of a bad cold. Wain." "It wasn't that." "Yes." And Mike rapidly explained the situation. Latin and English. Have you no sense. till Wain came along." Wyatt doubled up with noiseless laughter. "Undoubtedly so. "Jackson! What do you mean by running about outside the house in this way! I shall punish you very heavily. Exceedingly so" . if you like. I will not have it. I will not have boys rushing about the garden in their pyjamas. as if you'd just woke up and thought you'd heard a row. Well. I will not have it. if you were in the dining-room?" asked Wyatt." " least have the sense to walk quietly. You will catch an exceedingly bad cold. It was very wrong of you to search for him. standing outside with his hands on the sill." "That's not a bad idea. may I come in?" "Come in! Of course. "You have no business to be excited. I suppose. Exceedingly so. He must have got out of the garden. "You're a genius." said Mike. I'll get back." said Mr. Or. He gibbered slightly when Mike reappeared. you see. what's the game now? What's the idea?" "I think you'd better nip back along the wall and in through the window. "I never saw such a man. The thing was. come in." Mike clambered through the window. Did you not hear me call to you?" "Please. but I turned on the gramophone. All right." Mr. I shall certainly report the matter to the headmaster. but you don't understand. You have been seriously injured. so excited.

hanging over space. getting tea ready. of Donaldson's. And. were sitting in their study a week after the gramophone incident. "Stay where you are. the other outside. . CHAPTER VII IN WHICH MIKE IS DISCUSSED Trevor and Clowes. At least Trevor was in the study. Wain "father" in private. preparatory to going on the river." he said. "We might catch him. It is also in my mind that I threatened to punish you with the utmost severity if you did not retire at once. sir?" asked Wyatt helpfully. Wyatt wore the rather dazed expression of one who has been aroused from deep sleep. You hear me. In these circumstances." he said excitedly. Both of you go to bed immediately. "I thought I heard a noise. I will not have boys running about my garden at night. "sir" in public. He loved to sit in this attitude." "Shall I go out into the garden. Jackson--you will doubtless see the necessity of complying with my wishes. James. Clowes was on the window-sill." said Mike. I shall not speak to you again on this subject. sir. "Under no circumstances whatever. Wain into active eruption once more. I will not have this lax and reckless behaviour. in much the same way as a motor-car changes from the top speed to its first." he said. if I find you outside your dormitory again to-night. sir?" said Wyatt. James--and you. and have a look round. "I was under the impression." "But the burglar. "Has there been a burglary?" "Yes. It is possible that you mistook my meaning. The presence of Mike made this a public occasion. Wain's manner changed to a slow and stately sarcasm." They made it so. Jackson? James. sir. The question stung Mr." said Mike. Mr. He yawned before he spoke. It is preposterous. "only he has got away. in the heavy way almost invariably affected by weak masters in their dealings with the obstreperous. In that case I shall be happy to repeat what I said.He was about to say more on the subject when Wyatt strolled into the room. you understand me? To bed at once. He called Mr. I must be obeyed instantly. Inordinately so. one leg in the room. you will both be punished with extreme severity. "I was distinctly under the impression that I had ordered you to retire immediately to your dormitory. watching some one else work.

" said Clowes. and looked sad." said Trevor. My people wanted to send him here. Trevor. Better order it to-day. "was tensely occupied with the problem of brothers at school. but can't think of Life. you slacker. I did not. I lodged a protest." "See it done. There are stories about me which only my brother knows. "I said." "You aren't doing a stroke. If you'd been a silly ass. "Come and help. "All right. and very much in earnest over all that he did. Hence. But when it comes to deep thought. 'Good chap." said Trevor.and giving his views on life to whoever would listen to them. we shall want some more jam to-morrow. I'm thinking of Life." said Clowes." "My lad." "That shows your sense. Like the heroes of the school stories. Couple of years younger than me. I have a brother myself. which he was not. "One for the pot. 'One Clowes is luxury." "Marlborough.' At least." "My mind at the moment. That's a thing you couldn't do. you'd have let your people send him here. Not a bad chap in his way. Consider it unsaid." "Why not? Shouldn't have minded." "I withdraw what I said about your sense. Aged fifteen. Clowes was tall. 'Big blue eyes literally bubbling over with fun. where is he? Among the also-rans. we see my brother two terms ago. packing . I mean. laddie. Trevor was shorter. 'One Clowes is ample for any public school. Give him a tea-pot and half a pound of butter to mess about with.' That's what I say. Trevor. and that I didn't want the work of years spoiled by a brother who would think it a rag to tell fellows who respected and admired me----" "Such as who?" "----Anecdotes of a chequered infancy. two excess.' I pointed out that I was just on the verge of becoming rather a blood at Wrykyn. Where is he? Your brother. Have you got any brothers. I say. Trevor?" "One. Cheek's what I call it. I often say to people." breathed Trevor." "Silly ass. I should think. slicing bread.' I say.'" "You were right there. 'and he's all right. I suppose it's fun to him. as our old pal Nero used to remark. Tigellinus. On the present occasion he was measuring out tea with a concentration worthy of a general planning a campaign. Did I want them spread about the school? No. I said. "What particular rot were you thinking about just then? What fun it was sitting back and watching other fellows work." "Too busy. I have always had a high opinion of your sense.

What's wrong with him? Besides." "That's just it. Bread and jam and cake monopolised Clowes's attention for the next quarter of an hour." "Why?" "Well. as I said. But the term's hardly started yet. who looks on him as no sportsman. It's the masters you've got to consider. and a simple hymn had been sung by those present. I've talked to him several times at the nets. in which case he may find himself any morning in the pleasant position of having to explain to his people exactly why it is that little Willie has just received the boot. It's all right. come on. and why he didn't look after him better: or he spends all his spare time shadowing him to see that he doesn't get into trouble. People's faces brighten when I throw them a nod." said Trevor." "What a rotten argument. revered by all who don't. considering his cricket. loved by all who know me. At present." "Well?" "Look here. which is pretty rotten for him and maddens the kid. which is what I should do myself. That's where the whole rotten trouble starts." "Jackson's all right. but. For once in your life you've touched the spot. courted by boys. Bob seems to be trying the first way. naturally. But his getting into trouble hasn't anything to do with us. You say Jackson's all right. At the end of that period. In other words. My heart bleeds for Bob. take the melancholy case of Jackson Brothers. so he broods over him like a policeman. young Jackson came to Wrykyn when all his brothers had been here." "There's nothing wrong with him in that way. They think how nice it will be for all the sons to have been at the same school. too. What's wrong with him? He doesn't stick on side any way. which he might easily do. and tooling off to Rugby." "What's up? Does he rag?" . and he's very decent. so far. he returned to his subject. fawned upon by masters. however. "Mr. It may be all right after they're left. but while they're there." he said. Now. the term's only just started. what's at the bottom of this sending young brothers to the same school as elder brothers?" "Elder brother can keep an eye on him. It's just the one used by chaps' people. And here am I at Wrykyn. If I frown----" "Oh. Bob Jackson is practically responsible for the kid. I suppose. perhaps. He feels that his reputation hangs on the kid's conduct. We were on the subject of brothers at school. what happens? He either lets the kid rip. he is. Clowes resumed his very interesting remarks. with an unstained reputation. it's the limit.up his little box." "Young Jackson seems all right. "After the serious business of the meal was concluded.

Better leave him alone. But he's working up for a tremendous row one of these days. I don't know if he takes Jackson with him. every other night. It disturbed him all the time that he and Clowes were on the river. It would be a beastly thing for Bob if the kid did get into a really bad row. anyhow. The odds are. Well." "He never seems to be in extra. and which is bound to make rows between them. "Somebody ought to speak to Bob." "Yes. and. tell the Gazeka. unless he leaves before it comes off."From what I gather from fellows in his form he's got a genius for ragging. One always sees him about on half-holidays. And if you're caught at that game. and does them. Besides. All I say is that he's just the sort who does. It's nothing to do with us. He keeps on wriggling out of small rows till he thinks he can do anything he likes without being dropped on. but he probably wouldn't realise what he was letting the kid in for. walking back to the house. and has got far more chance of keeping an eye on Jackson than Bob has. he's on the spot. Thinks of things that don't occur to anybody else." "The Gazeka is a fool. he resolved to see Bob about it during preparation. which he hasn't time for. and then all of a sudden he finds himself up to the eyebrows in a record smash. then!" "What's wrong with Wyatt? He's one of the decentest men in the school. it's the boot every time. But what's the good of worrying. . I don't say young Jackson will land himself like that. shall we?" * * * * * Trevor's conscientious nature." "That's always the way with that sort of chap. if Jackson's so thick with him. I shouldn't think so." Trevor looked disturbed." "What's the good? Why worry him? Bob couldn't do anything. I happen to know that Wyatt breaks out of his dorm. that he'll be roped into it too. Let's stagger out. But there's nothing to prevent Jackson following him on his own. He's head of Wain's. He's asking for trouble." "All front teeth and side. however. Wyatt wouldn't land him if he could help it. who do you see him about with all the time?" "He's generally with Wyatt when I meet him." "If you must tell anybody. Still." "I know." "I don't know. made it impossible for him to drop the matter. too. You'd only make him do the policeman business. For instance.

But it won't do for Mike to go playing the goat too. Did he get his century all right?" "Who?" asked Trevor. being in the same house. J. if he lugged your brother into a row by accident. "I say. Is that a new bat?" "Got it to-day. he seems a great pal of Wyatt's. but." ." "Not a bit. Are you busy?" "No." "Nor do I. Rather rot." "That's all right then." "Oh." "I've done that." said Bob. Clowes and I were talking----" "If Clowes was there he was probably talking. Why?" "It's this way. Smashed my other yesterday--against the school house." "I know. He'd have more chance." "I should. sitting up. you know." "I should get blamed. Well?" "About your brother. Smith said he'd speak to him. "look here. of seeing that he didn't come a mucker than you would. bewildered." "Clowes suggested putting Firby-Smith on to him. oiling a bat. It's his last." "Oh. I didn't mean that brother. What happened?" "I didn't get a paper either. Mike? What's Mike been up to?" "Nothing as yet. "My brother." "Oh. I forgot to get the evening paper. Bob. I hear. If Wyatt likes to risk it. W. I spoke to him about it. He'd made sixty-three not out against Kent in this morning's paper. you did? That's all right. "That reminds me. then. though." "I hope he isn't idiot enough to go out at night with Wyatt. that I know of. by Jove.He found him in his study. I say." "Not that there's anything wrong with Wyatt. I meant the one here. I think I'll speak to him again. so I suppose he wants to have a rag." "Don't blame him. all right. Only he is rather mucking about this term. I think. That's his look out." he said.

But Mike fairly lived inside the net. I didn't go to him much this last time. always says that Mike's going to be the star cricketer of the family. "Don't think he's quite up to it yet. don't you?" "Yes. at home." "Sort of infant prodigy. and had beaten them. in the stress of wrestling with the speech of an apparently delirious Athenian general. it's not been chucked away.s. Bob. Henfrey'll be captain. for years. CHAPTER VIII A ROW WITH THE TOWN The beginning of a big row. . isn't there? I shall have Mike cutting me out before I leave school if I'm not careful." "Yes. and Bob. "I thought I heard it go. he allowed the question of Mike's welfare to fade from his mind like a dissolving view. is not unlike the beginning of a thunderstorm. I simply couldn't do a thing then. I expect. Pretty good for his first term. and you are standing in a shower-bath." "Hope so. Mr. There'll be a big clearing-out of colours at the end of this term." "Saunders. 18. started on his Thucydides. You are walking along one seemingly fine day. Nearly all the first are leaving. "I should think you're bound to get your first all right. You have a pro. when suddenly there is a hush. the pro. when they meet. And. having finished his oiling and washed his hands. to coach you in the holidays. though.' There's a subtle difference. It is just the same with a row. Some trivial episode occurs. But my last three innings have been 33 not out.Donaldson's had played a friendly with the school house during the last two days. he thinks." said Trevor. The next moment the thing has begun. 'You'll be making a lot of runs some day. I suppose he'll get his first next year. I was away a lot. I asked him what he thought of me." "Well. one of those rows which turn a school upside down like a volcanic eruption and provide old boys with something to talk about. even." "Better than at the beginning of the term. and 51. anyhow. and in an instant the place is in a ferment. Better than J. and there falls on you from space one big drop. I see Mike's playing for the second against the O. W." He went back to his study. It was so with the great picnic at Wrykyn.W. and he said. You were rather in form. whose remarks seemed to contain nothing even remotely resembling sense and coherence.

"P. They'd stuck me in eighth wicket.S. because they won the toss and made 215. and I got bowled).The bare outlines of the beginning of this affair are included in a letter which Mike wrote to his father on the Sunday following the Old Wrykynian matches.--I say. and 30 in a form match.W. B. I had to dive for it. Rather rot. and half the chaps are acting. songs." * * * * * The outline of the case was as Mike had stated. I believe he's rather sick about it. He was in it all right. could you? I'm rather broke. and some of the chaps were going back to their houses after it when they got into a row with a lot of brickies from the town. and by the time we'd made 140 for 6 it was close of play. Yesterday one of the men put down for the second against the O. Jones. Tell Marjory I'll write to her in a day or two. only I don't quite know where he comes in. 28 not out in the Under Sixteen game. but didn't do much.S. matches day because they have a lot of rotten Greek plays and things which take up a frightful time. And I made rather a decent catch at mid-on. I have been getting on all right at cricket lately. only they bar one another) told me about it.P. At the conclusion of the day's cricket. This was the letter: "DEAR FATHER. together with the school choir. Wasn't it luck? It's the first time I've played for the second. I suppose you couldn't send me five bob. They stop the cricket on O. I didn't do much. so I played.W. So I didn't go in. "P. day. "Rather a rummy thing happened after lock-up. My scores since I wrote last have been 0 in a scratch game (the sun got in my eyes just as I played. so we stop from lunch to four. the Surrey man. Love to everybody. "Your loving son. The thing had happened after this fashion. Rather decent. were entertained by the headmaster to supper in the Great Hall.W. but a fellow called Wyatt (awfully decent chap. I hope you are quite well. these words: "Or a bob would be better than nothing. 15 for the third against an eleven of masters (without G. There's a dinner after the matches on O. I'll find out and tell you next time I write. all those who had been playing in the four elevens which the school put into the field against the old boys. I wasn't in it. because I didn't get an innings. He was run out after he'd got ten.--Thanks awfully for your letter. and there was rather a row. as a . Bob played for the first." And. Low down. He's Wain's step-son.--Half-a-crown would do. But there were certain details of some importance which had not come to his notice when he sent the letter. There was a policeman mixed up in it somehow. "MIKE. lengthened by speeches. on the back of the envelope. Still. and Spence). and recitations which the reciters imagined to be songs. Rot I call it.'s second couldn't play because his father was very ill. I may get another shot. On the Monday they were public property. lasted. only I'd rather it was five bob. The banquet.

This was the official programme. The school was always anxious for a row. much as an Oxford man regards the townee. As a rule. which they used. they seemed to have no work of any kind whatsoever to occupy their time. if the town brigade had stuck to a purely verbal form of attack. accordingly. Risks which before supper seemed great. But tomatoes cannot. the first tomato was enough to set matters moving. as a rule. brainless. show a tendency to dwindle. for the honour of the school. and turn in. and hit Wyatt on the right ear." Like the vast majority of the inhabitants of the place. dance round it for some minutes singing the school song or whatever happened to be the popular song of the moment. Possibly. Wrykyn. Words can be overlooked. The school regarded them with a lofty contempt. But there were others. for the diners to trudge off to this lamp-post. the town. Antiquity had given the custom a sort of sanctity. the school. In the present crisis. But after an excellent supper and much singing and joviality. It was understood that one scragged bargees at one's own risk. it suddenly whizzed out from the enemy's ranks. as usual. and Wrykyn. When. and had been the custom for generations back. when the revellers were supposed to go back to their houses by the nearest route. to spend prowling about and indulging in a mild. and. in the midst of their festivities. was peculiarly rich in "gangs of youths. The school usually performed it with certain modifications and improvements. and then race back to their houses. and the authorities. they found themselves forgetting the headmaster's prejudices and feeling only that these outsiders must be put to the sword as speedily as possible. till about ten o'clock. there stands on an island in the centre of the road a solitary lamp-post. all might yet have been peace. About midway between Wrykyn. they amused themselves by shouting rude chaff. No man of spirit can bear to be pelted with over-ripe tomatoes for any length of time without feeling that if the thing goes on much longer he will be reluctantly compelled to take steps. rural type of hooliganism. As the two armies stood facing each other in silence under the dim and mysterious rays of the lamp. .rule. therefore. A curious dislike for school-and-town rows and most misplaced severity in dealing with the offenders when they took place. one's views are apt to alter. were among the few flaws in the otherwise admirable character of the headmaster of Wrykyn. It was the custom. the town. if they knew--which they must have done--never interfered. but it was the unwritten law that only in special circumstances should they proceed to active measures. the twenty or so Wrykynians who were dancing round the lamp-post were aware. They seldom proceeded to practical rowdyism and never except with the school. essentially candid and personal. that they were being observed and criticised by an equal number of townees. and that the criticisms were. it was not considered worth it.

The greatest expert would lose his science in such circumstances. Most Wrykynians knew how to box to a certain extent. Presently the school noticed that the enemy were vanishing little by little into the darkness which concealed the town. Probably what gave the school the victory in the end was the righteousness of their cause. But. Anybody coming?" For the first five minutes it was as even a fight as one could have wished to see. at any rate at first. except the prisoners. and the procession had halted on the brink. over which the succulent vegetable had spread itself. as an ideal place in which to bestow the captives. And their lonely condition seemed to be borne in upon these by a simultaneous brain-wave. It raged up and down the road without a pause. depressed looking pond. They were smarting under a sense of injury. panting." he said. while some dear friend of his. It struck Wyatt. It is impossible to do the latest ducks and hooks taught you by the instructor if your antagonist butts you in the chest. it was no time for science. now splitting up into little groups. Gloomy in the daytime. hits you at the same time on the back of the head. for they suddenly gave the fight up. Wyatt. * * * * * The school gathered round its prisoners. The scene of the conflict had shifted little by little to a spot some fifty yards from where it had started. one side of his face still showing traces of the tomato. He very seldom lost his temper." he said quietly. but two remained. and then kicks your shins. when a new voice made itself heard. and stampeded as one man.There was a moment of suspense. and there is nothing that adds a force to one's blows and a recklessness to one's style of delivering them more than a sense of injury." it said. The science was on the side of the school. "I don't know how you fellows are going to pass the evening. "My idea of a good after-dinner game is to try and find the chap who threw that. "what's all this?" A stout figure in policeman's uniform was standing surveying them with the aid of a small bull's-eye lantern. The leaders were beyond recall. To be scientific one must have an opponent who observes at least the more important rules of the ring. but he did draw the line at bad tomatoes. Wyatt took out his handkerchief and wiped his face. "Now then. of whose presence you had no idea. whose finer feelings had been entirely blotted out by tomato. led the school with a vigour that could not be resisted. tackled low by Wyatt and Clowes after the fashion of the football-field. Barely a dozen remained. The idea was welcomed gladly by all. now in a solid mass. . A move was made towards the pond. "Let's chuck 'em in there. By the side of the road at this point was a green. it looked unspeakable at night.

"Make 'em leave hold of us. They're a-going to chuck us in the pond." "I don't want none of your lip." "It's anything but a lark. and vanished. As he came within reach he attached himself to his tunic with the vigour and concentration of a limpet." It was here that the regrettable incident occurred. is it? What's on?" One of the prisoners spoke. He ploughed his way to the bank. Mr. a yell from the policeman." "Stop!" From Mr. and suspecting impudence by instinct. Constable Butt represented his one link with dry land. "Oo-er!" From prisoner number one. Butt. "This is quite a private matter. There was a sounding splash as willing hands urged the first of the captives into the depths. "All right. "We're the Strong Right Arm of Justice. Butt." "Ho!" "Shove 'em in. whoever you are. A drowning man will clutch at a straw. Just as the second prisoner was being launched. but if out quick they may not get on to you. Wyatt turned to the other prisoner. or you'll go typhoid. determined to assert himself even at the eleventh hour. He'll have churned up a bit. The policeman realised his peril too late. I expect there are leeches and things there. you chaps. You can't do anything here."What's all this?" "It's all right. and a splash compared with which . Butt. with a change in his voice. and seized the captive by the arm. Carry on." said Wyatt." said Mr. a cheer from the launching party. "You run along on your beat. The prisoner did. a lark's a lark." said Wyatt. going in second." said Wyatt in the creamy voice he used when feeling particularly savage. but you ought to know where to stop. That's what we are. a frightened squawk from some birds in a neighbouring tree. "You'll the mud getting you nip have the worst of it. you chaps." "Ho!" said the policeman. young gentleman. "Ho. A howl from the townee. At the same moment the executioners gave their man the final heave. Don't swallow more than you can help. Constable Butt. sprang forward. scrambled out. A medley of noises made the peaceful night hideous. This isn't a lark. are they? Come now. understanding but dimly. A man about to be hurled into an excessively dirty pond will clutch at a stout policeman. it's an execution.

and the interested neighbours are following their example. and. it has become world-famous. before any one can realise what is happening. but both comparisons may stand. I shall--certainly----" . and all was over. The tomato hit Wyatt. _Plop_!" said Mr. Nurtured on motor-cars and fed with stop-watches. sir." said Wyatt." "Threw you in!" "Yes. A tomato is a trivial thing (though it is possible that the man whom it hits may not think so). and throws away the match. Butt gave free rein to it. devastating row has many points of resemblance with a prairie fire. but in the present case. But for the unerring aim of the town marksman great events would never have happened. [Illustration: THE DARK WATERS WERE LASHED INTO A MAELSTROM] The school stood in silent consternation. calling upon the headmaster. sir. Butt. they did. Butt. with a certain sad relish. "I'm not half sure that we hadn't better be moving!" CHAPTER IX BEFORE THE STORM Your real. The flame catches a bunch of dry grass." as they say in the courts of law. Mr. as he watched the Law shaking the water from itself on the other side of the pond. sheets of fire are racing over the country. Following the chain of events. Wyatt. "Indeed! This is--dear me! I shall certainly--They threw you in!--Yes. Police Constable Alfred Butt. The headmaster was grave and sympathetic. and "with them. It was no occasion for light apologies.the first had been as nothing.) The tomato which hit Wyatt in the face was the thrown-away match. having prudently changed his clothes. and then two streaming figures squelched up the further bank. (I have already compared a row with a thunderstorm. went to look for the thrower. we find Mr. "Really. Butt fierce and revengeful. The imagination of the force is proverbial. it was the direct cause of epoch-making trouble. "Do you know. The dark waters were lashed into a maelstrom. "Threw me in. The remnants of the thrower's friends were placed in the pond. Mr. with others. really!" said the headmaster. Yes. In dealing with so vast a matter as a row there must be no stint. A man on a prairie lights his pipe. sir.

sir. "and it _was_ a frakkus!" "And these boys actually threw you into the pond?" "_Plop_. whatever _'ave_ you been a-doing? You're all wet. Butt started it again. 'Why. with the air of one confiding a secret. sir! Mrs. As it was. and threw you into the water----" "_Splish_." "Yes. 'Wot's this all about. Butt promptly. Mr. he accepted Constable Butt's report almost as it stood. I wonder?' I says." "I have never heard of such a thing. too. The headmaster tapped restlessly on the floor with his foot.' I says. Butt. he would have known that statements by the police in the matter of figures must be divided by any number from two to ten." "Yes--Thank you." The headmaster of Wrykyn was not a motorist. Butt is drying my uniform at home at this very moment as we sit talking here. but if you ask me my frank and private opinion I should say couple of 'undred." he added. constable. sir. They shall be punished. Lots of them all gathered together. 'Blow me if I don't think it's a frakkus. 'a frakkus. ''Allo. sir. Owing to this disadvantage he made a mistake.Encouraged by this appreciative reception of his story. sir. Had he been a motorist. with a vividness of imagery both surprising and gratifying. and I thought I heard a disturbance.' I says. They all 'ad their caps on their heads. sir. "How many boys were there?" he asked. "I was on my beat. She says to me. Wringin' wet." "Good-night.' And. They actually seized you. and I couldn't see not to say properly. "And you are certain that your assailants were boys from the school?" "Sure as I am that I'm sitting here. beginning to suspect something. sir.' And. "I _was_ wet. Good-night. sir. I says to myself. sir. "Two hundred!" "It was dark. I can hardly believe that it is possible. and fighting. "Couple of 'undred." concluded Mr. sir. according to discretion. He . I will look into the matter at once." said Mr. again with the confidential air. right from the beginning." "Ye-e-s--H'm--Yes--Most severely. sir!" said the policeman." "H'm--Well." The headmaster's frown deepened." "Yes.

which at one time had looked like being fatal. he would have asked for their names. They were not malicious." they had said. astounded "Here. * * * * * There is something rather pathetic in the indignation of a school. It could not understand it. There is every probability--in fact. and an extra lesson would have settled the entire matter. though not always in those words. and the school. always ready to stop work. blank. but he accepted the statement in so far as it indicated that the thing had been the work of a considerable section of the school. It must always.W. and crushed guilty and innocent alike. he got the impression that the school.'s matches the headmaster had given out a notice in the hall that the following Friday would be a whole holiday.. When condensed. The school was thunderstruck. The thrilling feeling that something is going to happen is the salt of life. . it is certain--that. right in it after all. No official holiday had been given to the schools in honour of the recovery. had approved of the announcement exceedingly. "There'll be a frightful row about it. The step which the headmaster decided to take by way of avenging Mr. as a whole. become public property. was culpable. about a week before the pond episode. A public school has no Hyde Park. They did not want to see their friends in difficulties. As it was. And this made all the difference to his method of dealing with the affair. * * * * * The school's attitude can be summed up in three words. and finally become a mere vague memory. everybody's comment on the situation came to that. a certain member of the Royal Family had recovered from a dangerous illness. or nearly always. It was one vast. But there is no denying that a row does break the monotony of a school term. And here they were. and those who had had nothing to do with it had been much amused. but for one malcontent. The pond affair had. and he proceeded to punish the school as a whole. Butt's wrongs was to stop this holiday. and in private at that. however. and not of only one or two individuals. but Eton and Harrow had set the example. Only two days before the O. expend itself in words.thought that he might possibly have been mistaken as to the exact numbers of those concerned in his immersion. I say!" Everybody was saying it. thrilled with the pleasant excitement of those who see trouble approaching and themselves looking on from a comfortable distance without risk or uneasiness. Had he known how few were the numbers of those responsible for the cold in the head which subsequently attacked Constable Butt. which was followed throughout the kingdom. He gave out a notice to that effect on the Monday. Even the consolation of getting on to platforms and shouting at itself is denied to it. of course.. and Wrykyn had come into line with the rest. The blow had fallen. It happened that. the school's indignation would have been allowed to simmer down in the usual way..

Leaders of men are rare." Neville-Smith stopped and stared. His popularity and reputation for lawlessness helped him. * * * * * Any one who knows the public schools. Neville-Smith came upon Wyatt on his way to the nets.The malcontent was Wyatt. He added that something ought to be done about it. as a whole. He expressed his opinion of the headmaster freely and in well-chosen words. he would not have dreamed of proceeding beyond words in his revolt. "I don't suppose one can actually _do_ anything. even though he may not approve of it. is typical of the way in which he forced his point of view on the school. A conversation which he had with Neville-Smith. "Well. and probably considered himself. It requires genius to sway a school. "What do you mean?" "Why don't you take the holiday?" "What? Not turn up on Friday!" "Yes. "What are you going to do?" asked Wyatt. and he proceeded now to carry it on till it blazed up into the biggest thing of its kind ever known at Wrykyn--the Great Picnic." "All right. intense respect for order and authority. Wyatt's coolness and matter-of-fact determination were his chief weapons. will appreciate the magnitude of his feat. Neville-Smith was thoroughly representative of the average Wrykynian. on the whole. and that it was a beastly shame." "You're rotting. a daring sort of person. "You're what?" "I simply sha'n't go to school. that it was all rot. guiltily conscious that he had been frothing. Wyatt acted on him like some drug." ." said Neville-Smith a little awkwardly. and scenting sarcasm. and. He could play his part in any minor "rag" which interested him. The notice concerning the holiday had only been given out that morning. It would be an absorbing task for a psychologist to trace the various stages by which an impossibility was changed into a reality. But at heart he had an enormous respect for authority." "Why not?" said Wyatt. Leaders of boys are almost unknown. their ironbound conservatism. He said it was a swindle. Wyatt was unmoved. a day-boy. He had been responsible for the starting of the matter. and he was full of it. I'm not going to. Before he came to Wyatt.

"Do. "It would be a bit of a rag. Wyatt whistling. CHAPTER X THE GREAT PICNIC . There were mysterious whisperings and gigglings. though the holiday's been stopped?" "That's the idea." * * * * * The school turned in on the Thursday night in a restless. They couldn't sack the whole school. "Tell them that I shall be going anyhow." "I'll speak to the chaps to-night." "Do you think the chaps would do it?" "If they understood they wouldn't be alone. and let you know." said Wyatt." "I suppose so. If the whole school took Friday off. "Shall I ask some of them?" said Neville-Smith." "All right. wouldn't it be?" "Yes. I believe." "I say. but." "I could get quite a lot. excited way. "I say. Are you just going to cut off. ragging barred. to disperse casually and innocently on the approach of some person in authority." "By Jove. they couldn't do much. I should be glad of a little company."No." "That would be a start. We should be forty or fifty strong to start with. nor could they! I say!" They walked on. I say. An air of expectancy permeated each of the houses." "Not bad. Groups kept forming in corners apart. wouldn't it? I could get a couple of dozen from Wain's. what a score. But only because I shall be the only one to do it." Another pause." "You'll get sacked. Neville-Smith's mind in a whirl." said Neville-Smith after a pause.

After call-over the forms proceeded to the Great Hall for prayers." "Perhaps he sent another notice round the houses late last night. "I say. Why. however. what a swindle if he did. Wrykyn was a boarding-school for the most part. And yet--where was everybody? Time only deepened the mystery. but it had its leaven of day-boys. "It's jolly rum. A strangely desolate feeling was in the air at nine o'clock on the Friday morning. The majority of these lived in the town. trying to get in in time to answer their names. who. of the Lower Fifth. and walked to school. the only other occupant of the form-room. I say. The cyclists looked at one another in astonishment. didn't he?" "Just what I was going to ask you. Sit in the grounds of a public school any afternoon in the summer holidays. What could it mean? It was an occasion on which sane people wonder if their brains are not playing them some unaccountable trick. I can't make it out. It seemed curious to these cyclists that there should be nobody about. though unable to interfere.W.'s day row. rather to the scandal of the authorities. One plutocrat did the journey in a motor-car. to Brown. but it was not a leading characteristic of the school. as a general rule. were empty. looked askance when compelled by the warning toot of the horn to skip from road to pavement. and you will get exactly the same sensation of being alone in the world as came to the dozen or so day-boys who bicycled through the gates that morning. A wave of reform could scarcely have swept through the houses during the night. and at three minutes to nine. I should have got up an hour later. The form-rooms.Morning school at Wrykyn started at nine o'clock. Where _is_ everybody?" "They can't _all_ be late." "So should I. "the old man _did_ stop the holiday to-day. A few. I distinctly remember him giving it out in hall that it was going to be stopped because of the O. like the gravel. It was curious that there should be nobody about to-day. Punctuality is the politeness of princes. came on bicycles." . it's just striking. whose homes were farther away." "Somebody would have turned up by now. A form-master has the strongest objection to being made to skip like a young ram by a boy to whom he has only the day before given a hundred lines for shuffling his feet in form." said Brown. At that hour there was a call-over in each of the form-rooms." "So do I. Some one might have let us know. you might see the gravel in front of the buildings freely dotted with sprinters. saying it was on again all right." said Willoughby.

as you say. sir. and lived by himself in rooms in the town. "Hullo." "None of the boarders?" "No. He walked briskly into the room. sir. We were just wondering. as was his habit. I shall go to the Common Room and make inquiries. and a few more were standing." "Do you mean to say that you have seen _nobody_. and the notice was not brought to me." "Yes. after all." "This is extraordinary. Spence seated himself on the table." "Have you seen nobody?" "No. "Well. Spence told himself. sir. Spence as he entered. But in the Common Room the same perplexity reigned." he said. "you two fellows had better go along up to Hall. Seeing the obvious void. Are you alone in the world too?" "Any of your boys turned up. and looked puzzled. Perhaps. The usual lot who come on bikes. And they were all very puzzled. sir. if the holiday had been put on again. sir. Brown. Spence pondered. It was just conceivable that they might have forgotten to tell him of the change in the arrangements. Not a single one." It was the master of the Lower Fifth. that this might be a possible solution of the difficulty. we don't know. as he walked to the Common Room. "Willoughby. there is a holiday to-day." Mr. sir. Spence." "We were just wondering. Mr. . Spence?" Mr. Are you the only two here? Where is everybody?" "Please. Spence. here _is_ somebody. Several voices hailed Mr."Hullo. He was not a house-master. I should have received some sort of intimation if it had been. he stopped in his stride." "I've heard nothing about it. Half a dozen masters were seated round the room. A brisk conversation was going on." Mr. Brown?" "Only about a dozen fellows. Spence?" "You in the same condition as we are. sir.

"Haven't any of your fellows turned up, either?" he said. "When I accepted the honourable post of Lower Fourth master in this abode of sin," said Mr. Seymour, "it was on the distinct understanding that there was going to be a Lower Fourth. Yet I go into my form-room this morning, and what do I find? Simply Emptiness, and Pickersgill II. whistling 'The Church Parade,' all flat. I consider I have been hardly treated." "I have no complaint to make against Brown and Willoughby, as individuals," said Mr. Spence; "but, considered as a form, I call them short measure." "I confess that I am entirely at a loss," said Mr. Shields precisely. "I have never been confronted with a situation like this since I became a schoolmaster." "It is most mysterious," agreed Mr. Wain, plucking at his beard. "Exceedingly so." The younger masters, notably Mr. Spence and Mr. Seymour, had begun to look on the thing as a huge jest. "We had better teach ourselves," said Mr. Seymour. "Spence, do a hundred lines for laughing in form." The door burst open. "Hullo, here's another scholastic Little Bo-Peep," said Mr. Seymour. "Well, Appleby, have you lost your sheep, too?" "You don't mean to tell me----" began Mr. Appleby. "I do," said Mr. Seymour. "Here we are, fifteen of us, all good men and true, graduates of our Universities, and, as far as I can see, if we divide up the boys who have come to school this morning on fair share-and-share-alike lines, it will work out at about two-thirds of a boy each. Spence, will you take a third of Pickersgill II.?" "I want none of your charity," said Mr. Spence loftily. "You don't seem to realise that I'm the best off of you all. I've got two in my form. It's no good offering me your Pickersgills. I simply haven't room for them." "What does it all mean?" exclaimed Mr. Appleby. "If you ask me," said Mr. Seymour, "I should say that it meant that the school, holding the sensible view that first thoughts are best, have ignored the head's change of mind, and are taking their holiday as per original programme." "They surely cannot----!" "Well, where are they then?" "Do you seriously mean that the entire school has--has _rebelled_?" "'Nay, sire,'" quoted Mr. Spence, "'a revolution!'"

"I never heard of such a thing!" "We're making history," said Mr. Seymour. "It will be rather interesting," said Mr. Spence, "to see how the head will deal with a situation like this. One can rely on him to do the statesman-like thing, but I'm bound to say I shouldn't care to be in his place. It seems to me these boys hold all the cards. You can't expel a whole school. There's safety in numbers. The thing is colossal." "It is deplorable," said Mr. Wain, with austerity. "Exceedingly so." "I try to think so," said Mr. Spence, "but it's a struggle. There's a Napoleonic touch about the business that appeals to one. Disorder on a small scale is bad, but this is immense. I've never heard of anything like it at any public school. When I was at Winchester, my last year there, there was pretty nearly a revolution because the captain of cricket was expelled on the eve of the Eton match. I remember making inflammatory speeches myself on that occasion. But we stopped on the right side of the line. We were satisfied with growling. But this----!" Mr. Seymour got up. "It's an ill wind," he said. "With any luck we ought to get the day off, and it's ideal weather for a holiday. The head can hardly ask us to sit indoors, teaching nobody. If I have to stew in my form-room all day, instructing Pickersgill II., I shall make things exceedingly sultry for that youth. He will wish that the Pickersgill progeny had stopped short at his elder brother. He will not value life. In the meantime, as it's already ten past, hadn't we better be going up to Hall to see what the orders of the day _are_?" "Look at Shields," said Mr. Spence. "He might be posing for a statue to be called 'Despair!' He reminds me of Macduff. _Macbeth_, Act iv., somewhere near the end. 'What, all my pretty chickens, at one fell swoop?' That's what Shields is saying to himself." "It's all very well to make a joke of it, Spence," said Mr. Shields querulously, "but it is most disturbing. Most." "Exceedingly," agreed Mr. Wain. The bereaved company of masters walked on up the stairs that led to the Great Hall.

CHAPTER XI THE CONCLUSION OF THE PICNIC If the form-rooms had been lonely, the Great Hall was doubly, trebly, so. It was a vast room, stretching from side to side of the middle block, and its ceiling soared up into a distant dome. At one end was a dais and an organ, and at intervals down the room stood long tables. The panels were covered with the names of Wrykynians who had won

scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge, and of Old Wrykynians who had taken first in Mods or Greats, or achieved any other recognised success, such as a place in the Indian Civil Service list. A silent testimony, these panels, to the work the school had done in the world. Nobody knew exactly how many the Hall could hold, when packed to its fullest capacity. The six hundred odd boys at the school seemed to leave large gaps unfilled. This morning there was a mere handful, and the place looked worse than empty. The Sixth Form were there, and the school prefects. The Great Picnic had not affected their numbers. The Sixth stood by their table in a solid group. The other tables were occupied by ones and twos. A buzz of conversation was going on, which did not cease when the masters filed into the room and took their places. Every one realised by this time that the biggest row in Wrykyn history was well under way; and the thing had to be discussed. In the Masters' library Mr. Wain and Mr. Shields, the spokesmen of the Common Room, were breaking the news to the headmaster. The headmaster was a man who rarely betrayed emotion in his public capacity. He heard Mr. Shields's rambling remarks, punctuated by Mr. Wain's "Exceedinglys," to an end. Then he gathered up his cap and gown. "You say that the whole school is absent?" he remarked quietly. Mr. Shields, in a long-winded flow of words, replied that that was what he did say. "Ah!" said the headmaster. There was a silence. "'M!" said the headmaster. There was another silence. "Ye--e--s!" said the headmaster. He then led the way into the Hall. Conversation ceased abruptly as he entered. The school, like an audience at a theatre when the hero has just appeared on the stage, felt that the serious interest of the drama had begun. There was a dead silence at every table as he strode up the room and on to the dais. There was something Titanic in his calmness. Every eye was on his face as he passed up the Hall, but not a sign of perturbation could the school read. To judge from his expression, he might have been unaware of the emptiness around him. The master who looked after the music of the school, and incidentally accompanied the hymn with which prayers at Wrykyn opened, was waiting, puzzled, at the foot of the dais. It seemed improbable that things would go on as usual, and he did not know whether he was expected to

be at the organ, or not. The headmaster's placid face reassured him. He went to his post. The hymn began. It was a long hymn, and one which the school liked for its swing and noise. As a rule, when it was sung, the Hall re-echoed. To-day, the thin sound of the voices had quite an uncanny effect. The organ boomed through the deserted room. The school, or the remnants of it, waited impatiently while the prefect whose turn it was to read stammered nervously through the lesson. They were anxious to get on to what the Head was going to say at the end of prayers. At last it was over. The school waited, all ears. The headmaster bent down from the dais and called to Firby-Smith, who was standing in his place with the Sixth. The Gazeka, blushing warmly, stepped forward. "Bring me a school list, Firby-Smith," said the headmaster. The Gazeka was wearing a pair of very squeaky boots that morning. They sounded deafening as he walked out of the room. The school waited. Presently a distant squeaking was heard, and Firby-Smith returned, bearing a large sheet of paper. The headmaster thanked him, and spread it out on the reading-desk. Then, calmly, as if it were an occurrence of every day, he began to call the roll. "Abney." No answer. "Adams." No answer. "Allenby." "Here, sir," from a table at the end of the room. Allenby was a prefect, in the Science Sixth. The headmaster made a mark against his name with a pencil. "Arkwright." No answer. He began to call the names more rapidly. "Arlington. Arthur. Ashe. Aston." "Here, sir," in a shrill treble from the rider in motorcars. The headmaster made another tick.

The list came to an end after what seemed to the school an unconscionable time, and he rolled up the paper again, and stepped to the edge of the dais. "All boys not in the Sixth Form," he said, "will go to their form-rooms and get their books and writing-materials, and return to the Hall." ("Good work," murmured Mr. Seymour to himself. "Looks as if we should get that holiday after all.") "The Sixth Form will go to their form-room as usual. I should like to speak to the masters for a moment." He nodded dismissal to the school. The masters collected on the daÃ‾s. "I find that I shall not require your services to-day," said the headmaster. "If you will kindly set the boys in your forms some work that will keep them occupied, I will look after them here. It is a lovely day," he added, with a smile, "and I am sure you will all enjoy yourselves a great deal more in the open air." "That," said Mr. Seymour to Mr. Spence, as they went downstairs, "is what I call a genuine sportsman." "My opinion neatly expressed," said Mr. Spence. "Come on the river. Or shall we put up a net, and have a knock?" "River, I think. Meet you at the boat-house." "All right. Don't be long." "If every day were run on these lines, school-mastering wouldn't be such a bad profession. I wonder if one could persuade one's form to run amuck as a regular thing." "Pity one can't. It seems to me the ideal state of things. Ensures the greatest happiness of the greatest number." "I say! Suppose the school has gone up the river, too, and we meet them! What shall we do?" "Thank them," said Mr. Spence, "most kindly. They've done us well." The school had not gone up the river. They had marched in a solid body, with the school band at their head playing Sousa, in the direction of Worfield, a market town of some importance, distant about five miles. Of what they did and what the natives thought of it all, no very distinct records remain. The thing is a tradition on the countryside now, an event colossal and heroic, to be talked about in the tap-room of the village inn during the long winter evenings. The papers got hold of it, but were curiously misled as to the nature of the demonstration. This was the fault of the reporter on the staff of the _Worfield Intelligencer and Farmers' Guide_, who saw in the thing a legitimate "march-out," and, questioning a straggler as to the reason for the expedition and gathering foggily that the restoration to health of the Eminent Person was at the bottom of it, said so in

"Anything I can do for you. He always told that as his best story. "You could ha' knocked me down with a feather!" The first shock over." said Wyatt. Other inns were called upon for help. and up the Wrykyn road came marching the vanguard of the column. Considering that five hundred and fifty boys were ranging the country in a compact mass. jam. the _Daily Mail_ reprinted the account. They looked weary but cheerful. On ordinary days Worfield was more or less deserted. Wyatt's genius did not stop short at organising the march. And towards the end of the day fatigue kept the rowdy-minded quiet. sir?" inquired the landlord politely. walked into the "Grasshopper and Ant. They descended on the place like an army of locusts." The writer said that great credit was due to the headmaster of Wrykyn for his ingenuity in devising and organising so novel a thanksgiving celebration. * * * * * At the school." the leading inn of the town. it melted away little by little. as the garrison of Lucknow heard the first skirl of the pipes of the relieving force. and headed it "Loyal Schoolboys. net practice was just coming to an end when. . As the army drew near to the school. At the school gates only a handful were left. as generalissimo of the expedition. The remarkable thing about the Great Picnic was its orderliness." That was the supreme moment in mine host's life. who seemed to be a warm personal friend of his." in which the rosy-cheeked one spoke most kindly of the head-master. And the army lunched sumptuously. "Yes. with comments and elaborations. each house claiming its representatives. It was not a market-day. singing the school song. A spirit of martial law reigned over the Great Picnic. In the early afternoon they rested. please. the staff of the "Grasshopper and Ant" bustled about. fortunately. Presently the sounds grew more distinct. At Worfield the expedition lunched. and apples. faintly. And there was the usual conversation between "a rosy-cheeked lad of some sixteen summers" and "our representative. there was wonderfully little damage done to property. or the confusion in the narrow streets would have been hopeless. It was his big subject of conversation ever afterwards. Wyatt. It is astonishing that the resources of the little town were equal to satisfying the needs of the picnickers. and he always ended with the words. In addition. And two days later.his paper. at about the time when Retribution had got seriously to work. those on the grounds heard the strains of the school band and a murmur of many voices. "I want lunch for five hundred and fifty. he arranged a system of officers which effectually controlled the animal spirits of the rank and file. The prompt and decisive way in which rioters were dealt with during the earlier stages of the business proved a wholesome lesson to others who would have wished to have gone and done likewise. Private citizens rallied round with bread. the march home was started. and as evening began to fall.

"it's not over yet by a long chalk. "I say. walking back to Donaldson's. The less astute of the picnickers. Neville-Smith was among these premature rejoicers. a stir of excitement when he came to the edge of the dais. they didn't send in the bill right away. "There has been an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. The school streamed downstairs. This was the announcement. overtaking Wyatt in the cloisters. "My dear chap. There was. speechless." he said. I thought he would." said Wyatt. met Wyatt at the gate. and cleared his throat as a preliminary to making an announcement. All streets except the High Street will in consequence be out of bounds till further notice.Bob Jackson." "What do you mean? Why didn't he say anything about it in Hall. Nor did he say that he should never have thought it of them. It seemed plain to them that the headmaster. Prayers on the Saturday morning were marked by no unusual features." Wyatt was damping. It hasn't started yet. indeed." CHAPTER XII MIKE GETS HIS CHANCE The headmaster was quite bland and business-like about it all. then?" "Why should he? Have you ever had tick at a shop?" "Of course I have." He then gave the nod of dismissal. "Hullo. Now for it. He did not tell the school that it ought to be ashamed of itself. "been to the nets? I wonder if there's time for a ginger-beer before the shop shuts. unmindful of the homely proverb about hallooing before leaving the wood." he chuckled. There were no impassioned addresses from the dais. "this is all right. Finds the job too big to tackle. isn't it! He's funked it. To lie low is always a shrewd piece of tactics. thought the school. had resolved to pursue the safe course of ignoring it altogether. marvelling. But it came all . and there seemed no reason why the Head should not have decided on it in the present instance. baffled by the magnitude of the thing. were openly exulting. What do you mean? Why?" "Well. and gazed at him.

The school inspected the list during the quarter to eleven interval. Between ten and eleven on Wednesdays and Saturdays old Bates. I never saw such a man. as they went back to the house. "What!" "Yes. Everybody below the Upper Fourth. He was quite fresh." he said." said Mike. "Seen the 'extra' list?" he remarked. "he is an old sportsman. And "the following boys" numbered four hundred." "Thanks. It left out little." said Mike ruefully. It seems to me you're the chaps who got off. swollen with names as a stream swells with rain. The headmaster had acted. rushing to the shop for its midday bun." "Sting?" "Should think it did. used to copy out the names of those who were in extra lesson." "Glad you think it funny. as he read the huge scroll. You wouldn't have if you'd been me. He lowers all records. * * * * * Wyatt met Mike after school." "Do you think he's going to do something." said Clowes. They surged round it. the school was aware of a vast sheet of paper where usually there was but a small one.right. What was it? Then the meaning of the notice flashed upon them. I notice." Wyatt roared with laughter. Buns were forgotten. Only the bigger fellows." ." Wyatt was right. "I don't know what you call getting off. It was a comprehensive document. the school sergeant. I'm glad you got off. I was one of the first to get it. who was walking a little stiffly. This bloated document was the extra lesson list. "By Gad." "How do you mean?" "We got tanned. "Bates must have got writer's cramp. then?" "Rather. To-day. "None of the kids are in it. You wait. "The following boys will go in to extra lesson this afternoon and next Wednesday." it began. and post them outside the school shop. Rather a good thing.

so you're all right. match." continued Wyatt. I should think they'd give you a chance. if his fielding was something extra special." "Oh. it isn't you. Don't break down. it would be a little rough on him to curse him when he does it. "I'll suggest it to Burgess to-night. But there'll be several vacancies. what rot!" "It is. captain of Wrykyn cricket. do you?" said Mike awkwardly. So you field like a demon this afternoon. Fielding especially. The present was one of the rare ." "I should be awfully sick. Wyatt. overcome. "It is when it happens to come on the same day as the M.C." "Well. Me. I don't blame him either. "Or. by Jove! I forgot." "You needn't rot." said Mike uncomfortably." "I say. nobody can say I didn't ask for it. that's the lot." said Mike indignantly." "You don't think there's any chance of it. rather. rather. who seldom allowed himself to be ruffled. Probably Druce. You'll probably get my place in the team. He had his day-dreams. "it's awfully decent of you. Still."Well. Adams. if it were me. Let's see. "I don't see why not? Buck up in the scratch game this afternoon. Any more? No. That's next Wednesday. If one goes out of one's way to beg and beseech the Old Man to put one in extra. especially as he's a bowler himself. "I'm not rotting. really. Burgess is simply mad on fielding. Ashe." said Wyatt seriously. I thought you weren't. making a century in record time). buck up. whatever his batting was like." "An extra's nothing much." "I say. "They'll put a bowler in instead of me. He'd shove a man into the team like a shot. Anyhow. "All right. was a genial giant. who seemed to be sufficiently in earnest. To have to listen while the subject was talked about lightly made him hot and prickly all over. you're better off than I am." * * * * * Billy Burgess." said Mike. and I'll carry on the good work in the evening." Mike smiled dutifully at what he supposed to be a humorous sally. isn't it? You won't be able to play!" "No. incidentally.C. and they always took the form of playing for the first eleven (and. like everybody else." said Mike." "I'm not breaking down. one of the places.

For a hundred and three. "The fact is. like the soldier in Shakespeare. as Wyatt appeared. "How many wickets did you get to-day?" he asked.C. "What? Are you sitting on my left shoe?" "No. I will say that for him. What do you mean by letting the team down like this? I know you were at the bottom of it all. Dash. That kid's good." He struggled into his shirt--he was changing after a bath--and his face popped wrathfully out at the other end. Why the deuce fellows can't hold catches when ." "Why don't you play him against the M. shortly before lock-up." "I suppose he is." "You----!" "William! William!" "If it wasn't illegal." "Old Bob can't field for toffee. give me a kiss. "I'm awfully sorry. There it is in the corner." said Wyatt. What does size matter? Cricket isn't footer. he isn't small. Besides. "You rotter! You rotter! You _worm_!" he observed crisply. and let's be friends." grumbled Burgess. on Wednesday?" said Wyatt." Wyatt waited patiently till he had retrieved it. full of strange oaths." Wyatt turned the conversation tactfully. in the excitement of the moment the M.. and drop you into the river. "He's as good a bat as his brother. Then he returned to the attack. He's as tall as I am." "You haven't got a mind. What were you saying?" "Why not play young Jackson for the first?" "Too small. "Eight. jumping at his opportunity.. "You've got a cheap brown paper substitute. Bill. Young Jackson caught a hot one off me at third man. Dropped a sitter off me to-day. I was on the spot. That's your trouble. "Come on.C." "Right ho!. And I'd jump on the sack first. I've dropped my stud.occasions on which he permitted himself that luxury." "Rot. "Dear old Billy!" said Wyatt. I'd like to tie you and Ashe and that blackguard Adams up in a big sack. Wyatt found him in his study. and a better field.C.C. match went clean out of my mind.

Better stick to the men at the top of the second. there is a curious." said Wyatt. When you're a white-haired old man you'll go doddering about. it's a bit risky. and you'll think it a favour if he nods to you in the pav. The only signs of life are a few pedestrians on the road beyond the railings and one or two blazer and flannel-clad forms in the pavilion. then. Give him a shot." he said. Everything seems hushed and expectant. The bell went ages ago. chaps who play forward at everything. and pat half-volleys back to the bowler! Do you realise that your only chance of being known to Posterity is as the man who gave M. And don't forget what I said about the grandchildren." "You play him. B. That kid's a genius at cricket." "Good. bottom but one. "Think it over.they drop slowly into their mouths I'm hanged if I can see. wouldn't you? Very well. I shall be locked out. Jackson his colours at Wrykyn? In a few years he'll be playing for England. He read it. "You rotter. and kicked the wall as a vent for his feelings. CHAPTER XIII THE M. Frightful gift of the gab you've got." Wyatt stopped for breath. and you rave about top men in the second. just above the W. "You know.C. how you 'discovered' M." * * * * * On the Monday morning Mike passed the notice-board just as Burgess turned away from pinning up the list of the team to play the M." he said.C. gassing to your grandchildren. Wyatt. His own name. even Joe. dream-like atmosphere about the opening stages of a first eleven match. "I'll think it over. The rest of the school have gone in after the interval at eleven o'clock. and a school team usually bats 25 per cent. was a name that leaped from the paper at him. poor kids.C. Jackson. "Can't you _see_ when you've got a good man? Here's this kid waiting for you ready made with a style like Trumper's. "With you three lunatics out of the team we can't afford to try many experiments. "All right. MATCH If the day happens to be fine." Wyatt got up." Burgess hesitated. better . The sense of isolation is trying to the nerves. at Lord's. For. Burgess. He's going to be better than any of his brothers. "Just give him a trial." said Burgess. and you are alone on the grounds with a cricket-bag." said Wyatt. You would like little Wyatt Burgess and the other little Burgesses to respect you in your old age. So long.C. It'll be the only thing they'll respect you for. and his heart missed a beat.

Saunders slapped his leg in a sort of ecstasy. He had almost reached the pavilion when one of the M. "Joe! Has he really? How ripping! Hullo. "Mike! You aren't playing!" "Yes. but conversation was the last thing Mike desired at that moment. Joe?" The greatest of all the Jacksons was descending the pavilion steps with the gravity befitting an All England batsman. sir. Only wants the strength. feeling quite hollow. Three chaps are in extra." he said. Master Mike.C." Joe took Mike by the shoulder. so that they could walk over together. where he had changed.C. Saunders?" "He is. and were just going to begin a little quiet net-practice. "Didn't I always say it. when the strangeness has worn off. and then they'll have to put you in. He felt as cheerful as if he and Saunders had met in the meadow at home. and quite suddenly. isn't he. and stopped dead." said Saunders. I'm hanged! Young marvel." "Well. "By Jove. Master Joe. "Why. you know. hopeless feeling left Mike. team came down the steps. the lost. "Wasn't I right? I used to say to myself it 'ud be a pretty good school team that 'ud leave you out. as Saunders had done." he chuckled. here he is.. saw him. Master Mike. "Why. Saunders!" cried Mike. and walked him off in the direction of a man in a Zingari blazer who was bowling slows to another of the .after lunch. Mike walked across from Wain's. Master Mike!" The professional beamed." "Wish I could!" "Master Joe's come down with the Club. "Isn't it ripping. you don't mean to say you're playing for the school already?" Mike nodded happily. I'm only playing as a sub. Bob had shouted after him from a window as he passed Donaldson's. and I got one of the places." said Saunders. "Got all the strokes. you'll make a hundred to-day." "Well. He could almost have cried with pure fright. to wait. sir. I always said it." "Of course. He stopped short. Hullo.

"I never saw such a family. "Do you think I don't know the elementary duties of a captain?" * * * * * The school went out to field with mixed feelings. It seemed for one instant as if the move had been a success. team. "Probably too proud to own the relationship.C. At twenty.C.M. And. and Mike's been brought up on Saunders. Mike recognised him with awe as one of the three best amateur wicket-keepers in the country. tried to late-cut a rising ball. to pull one of the simplest long-hops ever seen on a cricket field. opened with Joe and a man in an Oxford Authentic cap." "This is our star. dropped it. was feeling just the same." "I _have_ won the toss. as usual. Mike?" "Brother of yours?" asked the wicket-keeper. Burgess was glad as a private individual. aren't you." said the other with dignity. For himself. It was the easiest of slip-catches. The Authentic. and finally let it fall miserably to the ground. almost held it a second time. exhibiting Mike. You are only ten. the sooner he got hold of the ball and began to bowl the better he liked it. just when things seemed most hopeless. It was a moment too painful for words. they would feel decidedly better and fitter for centuries after the game had been in progress an hour or so. and hoping that nothing would come his way. You wait till he gets at us to-day. missed it. There was a sickening inevitableness in the way in which every ball was played with the very centre of the bat. "What do you think of this?" said Joe. One of those weary periods followed when the batsman's defence seems to the fieldsmen absolutely impregnable. The wicket was hard and true. "Aged ten last birthday. was not a side to which he would have preferred to give away an advantage. for Joe. conscious of being an uncertain field. Mike was feeling that by no possibility could he hold the simplest catch. Bob. but Bob fumbled it. Burgess's yorker was nearly too much for the latter in the first over. but he is. still taking risks.w. getting in front of his wicket. The M. not to mention the other first-class men. but he contrived to chop it away.C. sorry as a captain. and the pair gradually settled down." "Isn't there any end to you Jacksons?" demanded the wicket-keeper in an aggrieved tone.b. Joe began to open his shoulders. . and snicked it straight into Bob's hands at second slip. As a captain. Twenty became forty with disturbing swiftness. and Burgess tried a change of bowling. The beginning of the game was quiet.C. Saunders is our only bowler. which would have made it pleasant to be going in first. On the other hand. and was l. and playing for the school. relief came. He rolled the ball back to the bowler in silence. who grinned bashfully. And the next ball upset the newcomer's leg stump. he realised that a side with Joe Jackson on it. You'd better win the toss if you want a chance of getting a knock and lifting your average out of the minuses.

on the present occasion. Then came lunch. It was a quarter to four when the innings began. invincible.C. There was an absence of hurry about the batsmen which harmonised well with the drowsy summer afternoon. Burgess. there was scarcely time. five wickets were down for a hundred and thirteen. Four after four. When the bell rang for the end of morning school. Saunders. and the fieldsmen retired to posts at the extreme edge of the ground. The rest of the innings was like the gentle rain after the thunderstorm. and was stumped next ball. Runs came with fair regularity. Another wicket--two stumps knocked out of the ground by Burgess--helped the thing on. the hundred and fifty at half-past. Some years before." he said to Berridge and Marsh. Then Joe reached his century. and the M. Berridge. but exceedingly hard to shift. His second hit had just lifted the M. was stumped half-way through the third. after hitting three boundaries in his first two overs. coming in last. The hundred went up at five o'clock. A comfortable. "Better have a go for them. as usual. "Lobs. Unfortunately. but on a fine day it was not an unusual total for the Wrykyn eleven. was a thoroughly sound bat. A hundred an hour is quick work. a little on the slow side.C. and stumps were to be drawn at a quarter to seven.C. third-change bowlers had been put on. and two hundred and fifty. A long stand at cricket is a soothing sight to watch.C." It seemed to be the general opinion among the members of the Wrykyn ." said Burgess. Two hundred went up. total over the three hundred. until it looked as if they were likely to stay till the drawing of stumps. I wish I was in. Both batsmen were completely at home. against Ripton. Bowlers and field were infused with a new life. rather somnolent feeling settled upon the school. hit two boundaries. the first-wicket man. was optimistic. and only last season had massacred a very weak team of Old Wrykynians with a score that only just missed the fourth hundred. * * * * * Three hundred is a score that takes some making on any ground. with never a chance or a mishit to vary the monotony. "By Jove.The school revived. they had run up four hundred and sixteen. He and Marsh proceeded to play themselves in. But from the end of school till lunch things went very wrong indeed. unless the bowling happened to get completely collared. the end was very near. things settled down. And the pair of them suddenly began to force the pace till the bowling was in a tangled knot. and when the wicket-keeper was run out at length for a lively sixty-three. After this. And yet runs were coming at a fair pace. Joe was still in at one end. to make the runs. however. but wickets fell at intervals. all round the wicket. Following out this courageous advice. Morris. Then the great wicket-keeper took off the pads and gloves. and at the other was the great wicket-keeper. the school first pair. and was then caught by Mike.

several members of his form and of the junior day-room at Wain's nearly burst themselves at that moment. No good trying for the runs now. It was his turn next. Marsh hit an over-pitched one along the ground to the terrace bank. Saunders. He had refused to be tempted. Everybody knows in theory the right way to treat them. as if he hated to have to do these things. seemed to give Morris no trouble. and Mike. Yet nearly everybody does get out to them." All!. shrill noise as if somebody were screaming in the distance. By the time the scoring-board registered two hundred. all through gentle taps along the ground. as usual. with instructions to keep his eye on the lob-man. "Two hundred and twenty-nine. "and it's ten past six. Off the last ball he was stumped by several feet. three of them victims to the lobs. Bob.. fumbling at a glove. "That's all you've got to do. The team did not grudge them their good fortune.eleven on the pavilion balcony that Morris and Marsh were in luck. It was the same story to-day. when the lob-bowler once more got in his deadly work. but they were distinctly envious. His heart was racing like the engines of a motor. standing ready for Saunders's delivery. He knew his teeth were chattering. Twenty runs were added. by a series of disasters. He heard miles and miles away a sound of clapping. What a time Bob was taking to get back to the pavilion! He wanted to rush out. At the wickets. And that was the end of Marsh. Mike drew courage from his attitude. he felt better. was disagreeably surprised to find it break in instead. Marsh's wicket had fallen at a hundred and eighty. Morris was still in at one end. and hit the wicket. letting alone a ball wide of the off-stump under the impression that it was going to break away. having done himself credit by scoring seventy. Mike felt as if he was being strangled. The first over yielded six runs. and a thin. The long stand was followed. The next ball he swept round to the leg boundary. . Ellerby left at a hundred and eighty-six. As a matter of fact. five wickets were down. Bob Jackson went in next. He saw himself scoring at the rate of twenty-four an over. and he supposed that Morris knew that he was very near his century. He was jogging on steadily to his century. Bob had fallen to the last ball of the over. Mike knew that Morris had made ninety-eight." said Burgess. who had gone on to bowl again after a rest. looked so calm and certain of himself that it was impossible to feel entirely without hope and self-confidence." he added to Mike. Mike's heart jumped as he saw the bails go. and Bob put him through the slips with apparent ease. and get the thing over.. The bowler smiled sadly. At last he arrived. insinuating things in the world. Stick in. Everybody knows that the man who is content not to try to score more than a single cannot get out to them. because they had earned it. He wished he could stop them. yet he seemed to be absolutely undisturbed. For a time things went well. tottered out into the sunshine. and Morris. Lobs are the most dangerous. In the second.

and. Mike would have liked to have run two. but short leg had retrieved the ball as he reached the crease. the school was shouting. caught in the slips off Saunders's next over for a chanceless hundred and five." and he settled down to keep those six balls out of his wicket. and invariably hit a boundary. It was a half-volley. Sometimes a drive. He felt equal to the situation. There was only Reeves to follow him. If so. bowled the very best ball that he possibly could. He met the lobs with a bat like a barn-door. The bowling became a shade loose. but he himself must simply stay in. Saunders was beginning his run. besides being conscientious. Saunders was a conscientious man. did not disturb him. and bowled. Burgess came in. The hands of the clock seemed to have stopped. and began to hit out as if he meant to knock off the runs." said the umpire. It is useless to speculate as to whether he was trying to bowl his best that ball." It was Joe. which he hit to the terrace bank. sometimes a cut. extra-cover was trotting to the boundary to fetch the ball. skips and the jump. On the other hand. and Mike was blushing and wondering whether it was bad form to grin.Morris pushed the first ball away to leg. he failed signally. with the railings to fetch the ball if he Saunders ran to the crease. and Saunders. And in the dreams he was always full of confidence. "To leg. Mike grinned. the moment which he had experienced only in dreams. it was Mike's first appearance for the school. and you can't get out. All nervousness had left him. was undoubtedly kind-hearted. From that ball onwards all was for the best in this best of all possible worlds. Mike's whole soul was concentrated on keeping up his wicket.. Burgess had to hit because it was the only game he knew. "Play straight. just the right distance away from the off-stump. Now.. moment Mike felt himself again. the sort of ball Mike was wont to send nearly through the net at home. and two hundred and fifty went up on the telegraph board. sir. and Reeves was a victim to the first straight ball. Then suddenly he heard the umpire say "Last over. but always a boundary. "Don't be in a funk. Even the departure of Morris. Twice he was given full tosses to leg. doubtless. but Mike played everything that he did bowl. . Burgess continued to hit. The moment had come. Half-past six chimed.. The next moment the dreams had come true. The umpire was signalling to the scoring-box. It was like Marjory and the dogs waiting by made a drive. It was all so home-like that for a How often he had seen those two little being in the paddock again. who had taken the gloves when the wicket-keeper went on to bowl. Saunders bowled no more half-volleys." said a voice. wryly but gratefully.

" said the wicket-keeper. fast left-hand.The lob bowler had taken himself off. and the Oxford Authentic had gone on. Mike played it back to the bowler. All was well. "You are a promising man. Mike walked away from the wickets with Joe and the wicket-keeper. against the Gentlemen of the County. jumping. however gentlemanly. They might mean anything from "Well. One had to take the rungs of the ladder singly at Wrykyn." said Wyatt. But in a few years I'm afraid it's going to be put badly out of joint. He hit out. The match was a draw now whatever happened to him.C. and ran like a streak along the turf and up the bank. who had played twice for the first eleven. * * * * * So Wilkins. That meant. Joe.C. this may not seem an excessive reward. Mike let it alone." to "This is just to show that we still have our eye on you." said the wicket-keeper in tones of grave solicitude. But it needed more than one performance to secure the first cap. "I told you so. Five: another yorker." said Burgess. and mid-off. Got him! Three: straight half-volley. to Burgess after the match. But it was all that he expected. Number two: yorker." Mike was a certainty now for the second. "He's not bad. It hummed over his head. of the School House. match." But Burgess. and Mike got his place in the next match. As he had made twenty-three not out in a crisis in a first eleven match. at any rate as far . so you may as well have the thing now. and we have our eye on you. at the last ball. Down on it again in the old familiar way. almost at a venture. Four: beat him." Then came the second colours." CHAPTER XIV A SLIGHT IMBROGLIO Mike got his third eleven colours after the M. "What's wrong with it?" "At present. the visiting team. just failed to reach it. dropped down into the second. "nothing. Unfortunately for him. was not a person who ever became gushing with enthusiasm. "I'll give him another shot. as many a good man had done before him. The first ball was short and wide of the off-stump. and a great howl of delight went up from the school as the umpire took off the bails. First one was given one's third eleven cap. as has been pointed out. and missed the wicket by an inch. naturally. You won't get any higher. here you are. were not brilliant cricketers. "I'm sorry about your nose.

but Firby-Smith. "Well. and had to console himself for the cutting short of his performance by the fact that his average for the school was still infinity.C. The immediate cause of the disturbance was a remark of Mike's. was the tactful speech which he addressed to him on the evening of the bowling was concerned. Morris making another placid century. with Raikes. Appleby's made a hundred and fifty odd. shaping badly for the most part against Wyatt's slows. and I suppose you're frightfully pleased with yourself. and Berridge. The next link in the chain was forged a week after the Gentlemen of the County match. Run along. as is not uncommon with the prosperous. He had made seventeen. Bob. For some ten minutes all was peace. and was then caught at cover. getting here and there a single and now and then a two." he said. The Gazeka. and made three hundred and sixteen for five wickets. and Wain's were playing Appleby's. as head of the house. he waxed fat and kicked. Raikes possessed few subtleties. made a fuss. And the Gazeka badly wanted that single. There is no doubt that his meteor-like flights at cricket had an unsettling effect on him. House matches had begun. went in first. prancing down the pitch. We now come to what was practically a turning-point in Mike's career at Wrykyn. _verbatim_. who was one of those lucky enough to have an unabridged innings. bursting with fury. "you played a very decent innings this afternoon. was captain of the side. to the detriment of Mike's character. having the most tender affection for his dignity. In an innings which lasted for one over he made two runs. did better in this match. Then Wain's opened their innings. who had the bowling. Mike went in first wicket." he shouted. See? That's all. as the star. The following. But with Morris making a hundred and seventeen. eh? Well. Appleby's bowling was on the feeble side. and Marsh all passing the half-century. With anybody else the thing might have blown over. when the Gazeka. "Come on. Ellerby. of the third eleven. He was enjoying life amazingly. not out. The fact that he was playing for the school seemed to make no difference at all. The innings was declared closed before Mike had a chance of distinguishing himself. Mike pounded it vigorously. and was thoroughly set. Firby-Smith continued to address Mike merely as the small boy. mind you don't go getting swelled head. and Mike settled down at once to play what he felt was going to be the innings of a lifetime. Fortunately for him--though he did not look upon it in that light at the time--he kicked the one person it was most imprudent to kick. match. . To one who had been brought up on Saunders. With a certain type of batsman a single is a thing to take big risks for.C. supported by some small change. and he and Wyatt went in first." Mike departed. making twenty-five. Firby-Smith scratched away at his end. It happened in this way. The person he selected was Firby-Smith. having summoned him to his study for the purpose. hit one in the direction of cover-point. this score did not show up excessively. The school won the toss. Wyatt made a few mighty hits. but the indirect cause was the unbearably patronising manner which the head of Wain's chose to adopt towards him. and.

He was the man who arranged prefects' meetings. feeling now a little apprehensive. "Rather a large order. "Easy run there." he said reprovingly. Burgess. These are solemn moments. Now Firby-Smith not only possessed rather prominent teeth. a prefects' meeting. "It isn't funny. shouting "Run!" and. Burgess. who had remained in his crease with the idea that nobody even moderately sane would attempt a run for a hit like that. The Gazeka brooded apart for the rest of the afternoon. Firby-Smith did not grovel. you grinning ape!" he cried. cover having thrown the ball in. "You know young Jackson in our house. the wicket-keeper removed the bails." ." [Illustration: "DON'T _LAUGH_. and lick him. He avoided Mike on his return to the trees. And only a prefects' meeting.Mike." "What about him?" "He's been frightfully insolent. was also head of the school." he said. besides being captain of the eleven. And Mike. Mike's shaft sank in deeply. could adequately avenge his lacerated dignity. The sun glinted on his rather prominent teeth. avoided him. The world swam before Mike's eyes." Burgess looked incredulous. "I want you to call a prefects' meeting. a man of simple speech. "What's up?" said Burgess." "Cheeked you?" said Burgess. At close of play he sought Burgess." he said. miss it. The only possible way of smoothing over an episode of this kind is for the guilty man to grovel. To Mike's distorted vision it seemed that the criminal was amused. moved forward in a startled and irresolute manner. Through the red mist he could see Firby-Smith's face. Firby-Smith arrived. "It has to be a pretty serious sort of thing for that. "Don't _laugh_. chewing the insult. thought Firby-Smith. you know. he was also sensitive on the subject. "I want to speak to you. The fact that emotion caused him to swipe at a straight half-volley. YOU GRINNING APE"] He then made for the trees where the rest of the team were sitting. and be bowled next ball made the wound rankle.

C. On the other hand." said Firby-Smith. and let you know to-morrow. being jockeyed into slaughtering a kid whose batting he admired and whom personally he liked. I'll think it over. to drop a batsman out of the team in favour of a bowler. And either Mike or Bob must be the man. one of the four schools which Wrykyn met at cricket. Bob occurred to him. to judge from the weekly reports in the _Sportsman_ and _Field_. And the worst of it was that he sympathised with Mike. Burgess was as rigidly conscientious as the captain of a school eleven should be. and particularly the M. "Well. I mean--A prefects' meeting. It was only fair that Bob should be told. officially he was bound to support the head of Wain's. the results of the last few matches. look here. He thought he would talk it over with somebody. and he knew exactly how maddening the Gazeka's manner would be on such an occasion. In the first place. Geddington. Rather like crushing a thingummy with a what-d'you-call-it.C. In the second place. and he would have given much to be able to put him in the team. were strong this year at batting. had given Burgess the idea that Wrykyn was weak at bowling. a well-meaning youth who wanted to be on good terms with all the world." And the matter was left temporarily at that. well--Well. For that morning he had posted up the list of the team to play for the school against Geddington. but turned the laugh into a cough. CHAPTER XV MIKE CREATES A VACANCY Burgess walked off the ground feeling that fate was not using him well. . anyhow." "Oh. Bob was one of his best friends. I suppose--What did he say to you?" Firby-Smith related the painful details. therefore. It's not the sort of thing to rush through without thinking about it. Besides. match." "He's frightfully conceited. And here was another grievance against fate. "Yes. Here was he. Still. He knew what it felt like to be run out just when one had got set. as the nearest of kin. It became necessary. but he thought the thing over."Frightful cheek to a school prefect is a serious thing. Bob was a person he did not particularly wish to see just then. Prefects must stand together or chaos will come. Burgess started to laugh. "Rather thick. with the air of one uttering an epigram. he's a decent kid. Several things had contributed to that melancholy omission." he said meditatively. and Bob's name did not appear on that list.

dark. "Still. Burgess felt very self-conscious as he entered Bob's study. At batting there was not much to choose between the two. a fair fast bowler at all times and on his day dangerous. You know how to put a thing nicely. "Take a pew. "Sickening thing being run out. and Neville-Smith. you can. the captain. I sympathise with the kid." "Well. "Personally. can't you? This is me. "Still----" "I know." "It's awfully awkward." he added." . Don't these studies get beastly hot this weather. though he's your brother----" "Thanks for the 'though. Bob was bad. sitting over here. "Busy. What's all the row about?" Burgess repeated the main facts of the case as he had them from Firby-Smith. and wanted me to call a prefects' meeting and touch young Mike up. the man. with a cheerfulness rather over-done in his anxiety to show Burgess. one's bound to support him. that he did not hold him responsible in any way for the distressing acts of Burgess. What's Mike been up to?" "It's that old fool the Gazeka.and put the temptation sturdily behind him. "Silly young idiot. "Prefects' meeting! What the dickens is up? What's he been doing? Smith must be drunk. Mike was good." Bob displayed interest and excitement for the first time." said Bob. handsome chap." he said." continued Burgess gloomily. Bob?" he asked. but he _is_ an ass. "Hullo. It is awkward having to meet your best friend after you have dropped him from the team. I want to see you.' Billy. These clashings of public duty with private inclination are the drawbacks to the despotic position of captain of cricket at a public school. The tall. He came to me frothing with rage. "that ass of a young brother of yours--Sorry. It's rather hard to see what to do." suggested Burgess. Bob. There's some ginger-beer in the cupboard. look here. thanks." "I suppose so. So out Bob had gone. and was rather glad that he had a topic of conversation ready to hand. I suppose if the Gazeka insists. you know. the Gazeka _is_ a prefect----" Bob gnawed a pen-holder morosely. took his place. Have some?" "No. I say. and it is difficult to talk to him as if nothing had happened. but in fielding there was a great deal.

" emended the aggrieved party. I can easily talk all right in a second if he's treated the now." said Bob. "Don't do that. Seeing Bob. there's just a chance Firby-Smith won't press the thing. don't see there's a need for anything of best side you've got. I'll go and do it Burgess looked miserable. "You see it now. He had a great admiration for Bob. "Well. "I say. Say you'll curse your brother and make him apologise. Prefects' lickings aren't meant for that sort of thing. go and ask him to drop the business. He wants kicking." he said. "I didn't think of you. aren't you? Well. and that I'll kick him out of the team for the Geddington match." Firby-Smith looked a little blank at this. that frightful young brother of yours----" "I know. Bob. But he recovered himself. "Burgess was telling me. would it be. you're not a bad sort. Not much good lugging the prefects into it. He found that outraged hero sitting moodily in his study like Achilles in his tent. don't you?" Firby-Smith returned to the original grievance. They're supposed to be for kids who steal buns at the shop or muck about generally. One cannot help one's thoughts. having to sit there and look on. thanking his stars that he had won through a confoundedly awkward business. By now he'll have simmered down a bit. you're a pal of his." said Bob."Awful rot." . I'm a prefect. I don't know." With which glowing eulogy he dashed out of the room. "Look here." It was a difficult moment for Bob." "He wants a frightful licking from the prefects. You know." he said. "I wanted to see you. is there? I mean. apart from everything else. and for an instant the idea of going to Geddington with the team. You must play the the old Gazeka over. "I that sort. "Yes?" "Oh. not much of a catch for me. He hadn't had time to get over it when he saw me. Not for a chap who curses a fellow who runs him out." he said. Bob went across to Wain's to interview and soothe Firby-Smith. made him waver. he became all animation. I know. "I thought you hadn't. nothing--I mean." he said. as he would certainly do if Mike did not play. too. Look here. He gets right way. you know. you know. though. I tell you what.

and the offensively forgiving. But for Bob. "I say." "Thanks. All right then. I think if I saw him and cursed him. and Burton felt revengeful. He was not inclined to be critical. He wished he could find some way of repaying him. he felt grateful to Bob. He was a punctured balloon. . "What d'you think he'll do?" had induced a very chastened frame of mind. And. so subdued was his fighting spirit. and owed him many grudges. Curiously enough. who had frequently come into contact with Bob in the house." "Of course it was. really. fourteen years of age. After all. and unburdened his soul to him. It isn't as if he did that sort of thing as a habit. he gave him to understand. I did run him out. most of all. after the manner of a stage "excited crowd." "No. He realised that Bob had done him a good turn." said Mike." and Bob waving them back. Mike's all right. and the distinctly discouraging replies of those experts in school law to whom he had put the question. Reflection. had not omitted to lay stress on the importance of Bob's intervention. Firby-Smith. The apology to the Gazeka was made without reserve. and went to find Mike. "I'm jolly glad you're playing for the first against Geddington. He perceived that he had walked very nearly into a hornets' nest. it was an enemy of Bob's who suggested the way--Burton. Burton was a slippery young gentleman. and the realisation of his escape made him agree readily to all the conditions imposed. without interest. "I'm specially glad for one reason." "Thanks." said Bob. it was frightful cheek. Mike came away with a confused picture in his mind of a horde of furious prefects bent on his slaughter. All he wanted was to get the thing done with. It chanced that Bob and he had had another small encounter immediately after breakfast. Still. in the course of his address." "Yes. For the moment all the jauntiness and exuberance had been drained out of him. and sent him up to you to apologise--How would that do?" "All right. though without success."Well. say-no-more-about-it-but-take care-in-future air of the head of the house roused no spark of resentment in him. there's that. of course. of Donaldson's. would have been prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law. He happened to meet Mike going to school next morning." said Burton. Mike. he." "What's that?" inquired Mike. you know. With Mike he had always tried to form an alliance. * * * * * The lecture on deportment which he read that future All-England batsman in a secluded passage near the junior day-room left the latter rather limp and exceedingly meek.

Good-night. so that Burton. Burgess. and that the only thing he realised clearly was that Bob had pulled him out of an uncommonly nasty hole." At any other time Mike would have heard Bob called a beast without active protest. that's bad luck. They were _all_ beasts. retiring hurriedly. but several times." "Thanks.54 next morning. He kicked Burton. though. telling him to be ready to start with the team for Geddington by the 8. too. Mike tapped at Burgess's study door. and gradually made up his mind. On the evening before the Geddington match. * * * * * Mike walked on. CHAPTER XVI . yes. But on this occasion he deviated from his rule. He tapped with his right hand. Be all right. as it were. He thought the thing over more fully during school." said Mike."Because your beast of a brother has been chucked out. It must be remembered that he was in a confused mental condition. "I've crocked my wrist a bit." And Burgess. and his decision remained unaltered. It seemed to him that it was necessary to repay Bob. just before lock-up. "Hullo!" "I'm awfully sorry." "How did you do that? You were all right at the nets?" "Slipped as I was changing. "Come in!" yelled the captain." "Good-night. anyway. "Is it bad?" "Nothing much. weighing this remark." "I say." said Mike stolidly. Beastly bad luck. He'd have been playing but for you. some taint. He would have felt that it was no business of his to fight his brother's battles for him." "Hope so. for his left was in a sling. Not once or twice. with the comfortable feeling that he had managed to combine duty and pleasure after all. I suppose?" "Oh. I'm afraid I shan't be able to play to-morrow. wrote a note to Bob at Donaldson's. We wanted your batting. rather. came to the conclusion that it must be something in the Jackson blood. in a day or two.

Your mother's sure to ask me if you showed me round. I think I should like to see the place first. and. Go on the river?" "I shouldn't be able to steer.AN EXPERT EXAMINATION Mike's Uncle John was a wanderer on the face of the earth. at the request of Mike's mother. Mike? I want to see a match." "Doctor seen it?" "No. Somebody ought to look at it. had inherited enough money to keep him in comfort for the rest of his life. took the early express to Wrykyn in order to pay a visit of inspection. It doesn't matter a bit. Uncle John. and. His telegram arrived during morning school. Uncle John took command of the situation at once. "School playing anybody to-day. after an adventurous career. He had been dashing up to Scotland on the day when Mike first became a Wrykynian. really. mainly in Afghanistan." "Hurt?" "Not much." "Never mind. Coming south. I'll have a look later on. and now spent most of his time flitting from one spot of Europe to another. . He had been an army surgeon in the days of his youth. Only it's away. There's a second match on. but a few weeks in an uncomfortable hotel in Skye and a few days in a comfortable one in Edinburgh had left him with the impression that he had now seen all that there was to be seen in North Britain and might reasonably shift his camp again." "They're playing Geddington. What have you been doing to yourself?" "Crocked my wrist a bit. Still. thanks. It's nothing much. what shall we do. It won't do any harm having somebody examine it who knows a bit about these things. I didn't see. he had looked in on Mike's people for a brief space." "I could manage about that." "How did you do that?" "Slipped while I was changing after cricket." Mike did not appear to relish this prospect. Now. But it's really nothing. He had thereupon left the service. "It isn't anything. Be all right by Monday." "Why aren't you--Hullo. Mike went down to the station to meet him after lunch. It's like going over the stables when you're stopping at a country-house." "H'm.

But I wish I . It was one of those days when the ball looks like a large vermilion-coloured football as it leaves the bowler's hand. it was this Saturday. There are only three vacancies. The fellow at the other end is Wilkins." said Mike. if he does well against Geddington. I expect they'll give one of the other two to a bowler." "Rather awkward." It is never very interesting playing the part of showman at school." "Has Bob got your place?" Mike nodded. and better do it as soon as possible. as Trevor. He's in the School House. By Jove. but I thought that was only as a substitute. I should think. Neville-Smith. and done well. and Henfrey got one of those a week ago. they'll probably keep him in. A sudden. Very nice. What bad luck. They look as if they were getting set." "Isn't there room for both of you?" "Such a lot of old colours. swept a half-volley to leg round to the bank where they were sitting." he said enviously. "If he does well to-day. by George!" remarked Uncle John. The sun had never seemed to Mike so bright or the grass so green. "That's Trevor. Then there'll be only the last place left. but he choked the feeling down." "For the first? For the school! My word. I didn't know that. and they passed on to the cricket field. "I suppose you would have been playing here but for your wrist?" "No. it's Bob's last year. I've got plenty of time. I was playing for the first. I see. Still--And the Geddington ground was supposed to be one of the easiest scoring grounds of all the public schools! "Well hit. bitter realisation of all he had given up swept over him. I didn't know you were a regular member of the team. The thing was done. Mike pointed out the various landmarks without much enthusiasm--it is only after one has left a few years that the school buildings take to themselves romance--and Uncle John said. No wonder you're feeling badly treated. I remember your father saying you had played once for the school. and it was no good brooding over the might-have-beens now. "Ah yes." Uncle John detected the envious note. It was a glorious day.Got to be done. Will you get another chance?" "Depends on Bob. If ever there was a day when it seemed to Mike that a century would have been a certainty. "Chap in Donaldson's. that. who had gone in first wicket for the second eleven. where the second eleven were playing a neighbouring engineering school." "Still. "pretty good fun batting on a day like this. Both Mike and his uncle were inclined to scamp the business." two or three times in an absent voice. Mike. Of course.

and we'll put in there. and sighed contentedly.could get in this year." They walked down the road towards the school landing-stage. They got up. and was examining the arm with the neat rapidity of one who has been brought up to such things. "It's really nothing. sing out. let me--Done it? Good. caught a crab." said Mike. "Let's just call at the shop. Which reminds me." stammered Mike." Apparently Bob had not had a chance yet of distinguishing himself. "Put the rope over that stump. then gave it a little twist. The telegram read. . He could hear nothing but his own breathing. "Ye--no." A hunted expression came into Mike's eyes. "That hurt?" he asked. "That willow's what you want. Lunch. as he pulled up-stream with strong. Mike was crimson." said Uncle John. "is that one isn't allowed to smoke on the grounds." "Rotten trick for a boy. A-ah!" He blew a great cloud of smoke into the air." he began. When you get to my age you need it. I badly want a pipe. "The worst of a school." After they had watched the match for an hour. "There ought to be a telegram from Geddington by this time." "Not bad that. "I hope you don't smoke. "But I believe they're weak in bowling. Let's have a look at the wrist." "Pull your left." said Mike. The next piece of shade that you see. Boys ought to be thinking about keeping themselves fit and being good at games. Uncle John's restless nature asserted itself. and steered the boat in under the shade of the branches. "Suppose we go for a pull on the river now?" he suggested." Uncle John looked over his shoulder. His uncle pressed the wrist gingerly once or twice. recovered himself. but his uncle had already removed the sling. Mike?" "No. I wonder how Bob's got on. Uncle John looked up sharply. unskilful stroke. Can you manage with one hand? Here. To Mike it seemed as if everything in the world was standing still and waiting." said Mike. "Geddington 151 for four.

" Conversation dwindled to vanishing-point.. Then there was a clatter as a briar pipe dropped on to the floor of the boat. Why this wounded warrior business when you've no more the matter with you than I have?" Mike hesitated. It wasn't that. "I only wanted to get out of having to write this morning." The idea had occurred to him just before he spoke.) "Swear you won't tell him. where his fate was even now being sealed. There was a twinkle in his uncle's eyes. was the only occasion in his life on which Mike earned money at the rate of fifteen shillings a half-minute. What's the time? Just on six? Didn't know it was so late. It had struck him as neat and plausible. Mike told it. I think. I was nearly asleep." When in doubt. swear you won't tell him. To Uncle John it did not appear in the same light. "May as well tell me.. I won't give you away. "I know. staring up at the blue sky through the branches of the willow. Mike said nothing. "Jove. dash it all then. wouldn't that have got you out of your exam? Try again. That's how it was. gaping. Only----" "Well?" "Oh. would they give him his cap? Supposing. on. and he seemed a bit sick at not playing for the first. and his uncle sat up. one may as well tell the truth." . really.. Look here. Uncle John smoked on in weighty silence."What's the game?" inquired Uncle John. He'd be most frightfully sick if he knew. Lock-up's at half-past." "I ought to be getting back soon. (This. while Mike. A faint snore from Uncle John broke in on his meditations. well. so I thought I might as well let him. it may be mentioned as an interesting biographical fact. There was an exam. How had the school got on? What had Bob done? If he made about twenty. let his mind wander to Geddington. Inwardly he was deciding that the five shillings which he had intended to bestow on Mike on his departure should become a sovereign. "Do you always write with your left hand? And if you had gone with the first eleven to Geddington. Old Bob got me out of an awful row the day before yesterday." Uncle John was silent." "I won't tell him.

" Mike worked his way back through the throng. I'm going to shove her off. You can tackle that rope with two hands now."Up with the anchor. "Shall we go and look?" They walked to the shop. I should think he'd go off his nut if he took eight ever. How's your wrist?" "Oh." said Mike. . better. I wanted to go to sleep. thanks." he added carelessly." he said. Marsh 58. First eleven colours were generally given in the pavilion after a match or on the journey home. "Well?" said Uncle John. "Any colours?" asked Mike after a pause. eh? We are not observed. Wrykyn 270 for nine (Berridge 86. It ran as follows: "Geddington 247 (Burgess six wickets. Uncle John felt in his pocket. "It was simply baking at Geddington. Jackson 48)." Wyatt began to undress. as they reached the school gates. and silently slid a sovereign into Mike's hand. Don't fall overboard. Neville-Smith four). and rejoined his uncle. "By Jove. I should think. only they wouldn't let me. Old Smith was awfully bucked because he'd taken four wickets. And I came back in a carriage with Neville-Smith and Ellerby. CHAPTER XVII ANOTHER VACANCY Wyatt got back late that night. "We won. Mike pushed his way through the crowd. and they ragged the whole time. "Bob made forty-eight. I'm done. It was a longer message this time. arriving at the dormitory as Mike was going to bed." He paused for a moment. then. A second piece of grey paper had been pinned up under the first. It was the only possible reply. He was singing comic songs when he wasn't trying to put Ellerby under the seat." "There'll be another telegram.

as he lay awake in his cubicle. He was very fond of Bob. Ripping innings bar those two chances. when he does give a couple of easy chances. Then fired a third much faster and a bit shorter. to-day. Chap had got a late cut which he fancied rather. And Bob dropped it! The memory was too bitter. With great guile he had fed this late cut. Never saw a clearer case in my life." "Most captains would have done. and another chap." Burgess. Bob puts them both on the floor. only Burgess is so keen on fielding that he rather keeps off it." "What was Bob's innings like?" "Not bad. Jenkins and Clephane. He felt towards him much as a father feels towards a prodigal son whom there is still a . though. but two missed catches in one over was straining the bonds of human affection too far. Only one or two thirds. He didn't give the ghost of a chance after that. but now he's got so nervous that he's a dozen times worse. He was pretty bad at the beginning of the season. He let their best man off twice in one over." "I should have thought they'd have given him his colours. reviewing the match that night. If he dwelt on it. I hear he's got an average of eighty in school matches this season. Bob's fielding's perfectly sinful. He thought of Bob's iniquities with sorrow rather than wrath. had come to much the same conclusion. Bob's the sort of man who wouldn't catch a ball if you handed it to him on a plate. Chap had a go at it. And Billy would cut his rich uncle from Australia if he kept on dropping them off him. And the man always will choose Billy's bowling to drop catches off. Their umpire. and the chap went on and made a hundred odd. did he field badly?" "Rottenly. Bit rotten for the Geddington chaps. A bit lucky. off Billy. too. He writhed in bed as he remembered the second of the two chances which the wretched Bob had refused."No. Billy wouldn't have given him his cap after the match if he'd made a hundred. Sent down a couple which he put to the boundary. Next morning he found himself in a softened frame of mind. and he was out when he'd made about sixteen. he would get insomnia. No first. So he turned to pleasanter reflections: the yorker which had shattered the second-wicket man. with watercress round it. He ought to have been out before he'd scored. Just lost them the match. just as he had expected: and he felt that life was a good thing after all when the ball just touched the corner of the bat and flew into Bob's hands. I was in at the other end. There would have been serious trouble between David and Jonathan if either had persisted in dropping catches off the other's bowling. The scene was indelibly printed on his mind. he fell asleep. Beastly man to bowl to. He turns a delicate green when he sees a catch coming. and the slow head-ball which had led to a big hitter being caught on the boundary. he felt. Knocked me off in half a dozen overs. only the umpire didn't seem to know that it's l-b-w when you get your leg right in front of the wicket and the ball hits it." "Why. can't remember who. Bit of luck for Bob. And. Soothed by these memories.

This did not affect the bulk of the school. Do you think you'd really do better in the deep?" "I'm almost certain I should. Bob figured on the boundary." "Second be blowed! I want your batting in the first. I could get time to watch them there. I shall miss it.chance of reforming. The beauty of fielding in the deep is that no unpleasant surprises can be sprung upon one. but I mean. where he had not much to do except throw the ball back to the bowler. * * * * * His opportunity came at last. As for Mike. I wish you'd give me a shot in the deep--for the second. why _can't_ you hold them? It's no good being a good bat--you're that all right--if you're going to give away runs in the field. I get in the dickens of a funk directly the bowler starts his run now. He overtook Bob on his way to chapel. and hoped for the day. I'll practise like mad." Bob was all remorse. of Seymour's. all streets except the High Street would be out of bounds. "Look here. I believe I should do better in the deep. Both of them were." "That one yesterday was right into your hands. Try it. I know that if a catch does come. There is just that moment or two for collecting one's thoughts which makes the whole difference. But there were certain inquiring minds who liked to ferret about in odd corners. as he stood regarding the game from afar. Bob." "Well." "Do you know. About your fielding. I hate the slips. Shoeblossom was a curious mixture of the Energetic Ragger and the . "It's those beastly slip catches. Directness was always one of Burgess's leading qualities." "All right then. and stop an occasional drive along the carpet. I'm certain the deep would be much better. I'm frightfully sorry. * * * * * In the next two matches. Among these was one Leather-Twigg. It's simply awful. drop by drop." The conversation turned to less pressing topics." "I know. I can't time them. better known in criminal circles as Shoeblossom. accordingly. found his self-confidence returning slowly. he played for the second. It will be remembered that on the morning after the Great Picnic the headmaster made an announcement in Hall to the effect that. Bob. owing to an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. Trevor'll hit me up catches. for most of the shops to which any one ever thought of going were in the High Street.

Anything in the nature of concentration became impossible in these circumstances. sucked oranges. and a ball hit from a neighbouring net nearly scalped him. G. going down with a swagger-stick to investigate. deep in some work of fiction and resentful of interruption. Chicken-pox is no respecter of persons. lest Authority should see him out of bounds. He. He made his way there. settled down to a thoughtful perusal of chapter six. The next victim was Marsh. at the same moment. entering the High Street furtively. On the Tuesday afternoon." and for the next day or two he wandered about like a lost spirit trying to find a sequestered spot in which to read it. be kept warm and out of draughts and not permitted to scratch himself. of the first eleven.Quiet Student. and looking like the spotted marvel of a travelling circus. On the Wednesday morning he would be in receipt of four hundred lines from his housemaster for breaking three windows and a gas-globe. A week later Shoeblossom began to feel queer. His inability to hit on such a spot was rendered more irritating by the fact that. It happened about the date of the Geddington match that he took out from the school library a copy of "The Iron Pirate. all amongst the dust and bluebottles. his late cuts that were wont to set the pavilion in a roar? Wrapped in a blanket. where he went about his lawful occasions as if there were no such thing as chicken-pox in the world. Shoeblossom came away. and Shoeblossom took up his abode in the Infirmary. he was driven across to the Infirmary in a four-wheeler. Two days later Barry felt queer. was called for. his collar burst and blackened and his face apoplectically crimson. to judge from the first few chapters (which he had managed to get through during prep. he was attending J. Essentially a man of moods. disappeared from Society. and found himself oppressed by a queer distaste for food. And so it came about that Mike soared once again into the ranks of the . and it became incumbent upon Burgess to select a substitute for him. Upstairs. and thought of Life. what was more important. The professional advice of Dr. however necessary such an action might seem to him. and at the bottom of the heap. but people threw cushions at him. Then he recollected that in a quiet backwater off the High Street there was a little confectioner's shop. the school doctor. and also. He had occasional headaches. strolling in some shady corner of the grounds you would come upon him lying on his chest. squealing louder than any two others. would be Shoeblossom. Oakes. In brief. He tried the junior day-room. too. On a Monday evening you would hear a hideous uproar proceeding from Seymour's junior day-room. the book was obviously the last word in hot stuff. and returned to the school. the son of the house. the doctor was recommending that Master John George. where tea might be had at a reasonable sum. you would find a tangled heap of squealing humanity on the floor. Marsh. He tried out of doors. Where were his drives now. and in the dingy back shop. where he read _Punch_. Shoeblossom. peace. But all the while the microbe was getting in some unostentatious but clever work. one night under the eye of a short-sighted master). who was top of the school averages. and. for chicken-pox.

too. and Mike kept his end up.elect. so he spread brown-boot polish on bread. what then?" "Don't you ever have feeds in the dorms. It generally happens at least once in a school cricket season that the team collapses hopelessly. But on this particular day. Too old now. for Neville-Smith. doubled this. but nobody except Wyatt. Do you remember Macpherson? Left a couple of years ago. My pater is away for a holiday in Norway. All sorts of luxuries. and I'm alone. Sardines on sugar-biscuits. And I can square them. three years ago. and was not out eleven. CHAPTER XVIII BOB HAS NEWS TO IMPART Wrykyn went down badly before the Incogs. and the school. I've got the taste in my mouth still. and found his name down in the team to play against the Incogniti. The general opinion of the school after this match was that either Mike or Bob would have to stand down from the team when it was definitely filled up. Wonderful chap! But what about this thing of yours? What time's it going to be?" "Eleven suit you?" "All right. batting when the wicket was easier. they failed miserably. who hit out at everything and knocked up thirty before he was stumped. made a dozen. when Wain's won the footer cup." . Have to look after my digestion. Some schools do it in nearly every match. found themselves considerably puzzled by a slow left-hander. "If I do" he said to Wyatt. by showing up well with the ball against the Incogniti when the others failed with the bat. Will you come?" "Tea?" "Tea!" said Neville-Smith scornfully. "there will be the biggest bust of modern times at my place. Morris and Berridge left with the score still short of ten. Bob. going in fourth wicket. I remember. Got through a slice. batting first on the drying wicket. and ate that. against a not overwhelmingly strong side. after lights-out in the houses?" "Used to when I was a kid. They had only been beaten once. made it practically certain that he would get one of the two vacancies. His food ran out. did anything to distinguish himself. bar the servants. The total was a hundred and seven. we got up and fed at about two in the morning. for rain fell early in the morning. and the Incogniti. The weather may have had something to do with it. "Well. for no apparent reason. and that by a mere twenty odd runs in a hard-fought game. but Wrykyn so far had been particularly fortunate this year. and after that the rout began.

" "Awful rot the pater sending us to the same school." continued Bob. But young Mike's all over him as a bat. was more at his ease."How about getting out?" "I'll do it as quickly as the team did to-day. We've all been at Wrykyn. he would just do it." "I'm an exceptional sort of chap. Still. Liable at any moment to miss a sitter. He got tea ready." "You get on much better in the deep. Bob." "Bit better. Mike shuffled uncomfortably as his brother filled the kettle and lit the Etna. "What! Why?" "That's what I wanted to see you about." "What about the Jacksons?" "It's going to be a close thing. as if there were no particular reason why either of them should feel uncomfortable in the other's presence. one wants the best man. Pity to spoil the record. meeting him one day outside Donaldson's. so perhaps it would be better if Bob got the place as it's his last season. In a year or two that kid'll be a marvel. making desultory conversation the while." "You were all right. Not that it matters much really whether I do now. he poured Mike out a cup. of course. He's bound to get in next year. passed him the bread. yes." Mike stared. and mine for not being able to field like an ordinary human being. I can't say more than that." "Oh. and he privately thought it rather tactless of the latter when. It's your fault for being such a young Infant Prodigy. being older. I don't know. "Not seen much of each other lately. Has Burgess said anything to you yet?" "No. If Bob's fielding were to improve suddenly. When he had finished. Mike. what?" Mike murmured unintelligibly through a mouthful of bread-and-jam." * * * * * Mike avoided Bob as much as possible during this anxious period. It required more tact than he had at his disposal to carry off a situation like this. "because it is. of course. Beastly awkward. and sat down. Why? What about?" . he insisted on his coming in and having some tea. "It's no good pretending it isn't an awkward situation. though.

'Decidedly M. I'll tell you what makes me think the thing's settled.' said Spence. Billy said.' said old Bill. and now he had achieved it. and then sheered off myself. but he would not have been human (which he certainly was) if the triumph of having won through at last into the first eleven had not dwarfed commiseration. He's a shade better than R. I couldn't help hearing what they said. They thought the place was empty. I'm jolly glad it's you. and in a year or two. 'Well. in the First room. "I don't propose to kiss you or anything. sir. They shook hands. sir. 'I don't know what to do. So Mike edged out of the room. And so home. He was sorry for Bob. And then I heard Burgess and Spence jawing on the steps." resumed Bob. just now. and I picked it up and started reading it. "Well. but don't feel bound to act on it. Congratulate you. I've a sort of idea our little race is over. The pav. This was one of the most harrowing interviews he had ever been through." muttered Mike. but apparently he does consult Spence sometimes. Spence said. I'll give you my opinion." Mike looked at the floor. So there wasn't any noise to show anybody outside that there was some one in the room. "Not at all. doing a big Young Disciple with Wise Master act. rot. of course. of course. After all. 'That's just what I think. I was in the pav. trying to find a batting-glove I'd mislaid. and I shall cadge a seat in the pavilion from you when you're playing for England at the Oval. and tore across to Wain's." It was the custom at Wrykyn. "Thanks. and that's what he's there for. I waited a bit to give them a good start. wiping the sweat off his forehead. Burgess.' 'Yes. I'm not saying that it isn't a bit of a brick just missing my cap like this." said Mike. It had been his one ambition. what I wanted to see you about was this. It's the fortune of war. awfully. he's cricket-master.'s like a sounding-board. and dashing up side-streets to avoid me because you think the sight of you will be painful.' he said. Bob. now. and said nothing. I'm simply saying what I think. '_I_ think M. on the other hand. . it's about as difficult a problem as any captain of cricket at Wrykyn has ever had to tackle. 'It's rough on Bob.'" "Oh. but still----' And then they walked down the steps. I don't want you to go about feeling that you've blighted my life. to shake his hand. I heard every word. Well. sir?' Spence said. 'Well. don't let's go to the other extreme. I fancy you've won.. and so on. There was nothing much to _be_ said. there'll be no comparison. And after that there seemed to be nothing much to talk about. There was a copy of the _Wrykynian_ lying on the mantelpiece. Billy agreed with him."Well. but. As it isn't me.' I had a sort of idea that old Billy liked to boss things all on his own. when you congratulated a man on getting colours. but it would have been just as bad for you if you'd been the one dropped." "I've not heard a word----" "I have. What do you think.

and a little more. as it always does. The only possible confidant was Wyatt.-S. as he would otherwise almost certainly have been. In this fermenting state Mike went into the house. dash it. Until he returned. He belonged to the school of thought which holds that a man becomes plain and pasty if deprived of his full spell in bed. It would only take him ten minutes to wash and get into his flannels. even on a summer morning. Mike could tell nobody. was not. "All the above will turn out for house-fielding at 6. he found that it was five minutes past six.--W. therefore. Until the news was official he could not mention it to the common herd. For bull's-eyes as well as cats came within Wyatt's range as a marksman. "what rot! Why on earth can't he leave us alone!" For getting up an hour before his customary time for rising was not among Mike's favourite pastimes. a few words scrawled in pencil at the bottom caught his eye. CHAPTER XIX MIKE GOES TO SLEEP AGAIN Mike was a stout supporter of the view that sleep in large quantities is good for one. He aimed at the peach-bloom complexion. When he woke it seemed even less attractive than it had done when he went to sleep. As he passed it. It wouldn't do. He woke from a sort of doze to find that it was twenty-five past. he felt. and this silent alarm proved effective. orders were orders. He had banged his head on the pillow six times over-night. Reaching out a hand for his watch.30 to-morrow morning. He could manage another quarter of an hour between the sheets. shooting with the School Eight for the Ashburton. Seymour's on the following Monday was on the board. It would have to be done. And Wyatt was at Bisley. F. . Still." "Oh. To be routed out of bed a clear hour before the proper time. a prospect that appealed to him.The annoying part of the thing was that he had nobody to talk to about it. And by the time he returned the notice would probably be up in the Senior Block with the other cricket notices. The list of the team to play for Wain's _v_. but even though short of practice he was well up in the team. This was to the good. Cricket took up too much of his time for him to be captain of the Eight and the man chosen to shoot for the Spencer." said Mike. He took his quarter of an hour.

he asked himself. It was time. And one also knows that a single resolute heave will do the trick. looking at him. Perhaps it may spoil one's whole day. One knows that delay means inconvenience. would be bad enough. Make the rest of the team fag about. "look here. But not a chap who. that the foot of Authority was set firmly down. had got his first _for_ fielding! It was with almost a feeling of self-righteousness that Mike turned over on his side and went to sleep again. One simply lies there. dash it all. Firby-Smith straightened his tie. But logic is of no use. put upon by a worm who had only just scraped into the third. he said to himself. Mike thought he would take another minute. after all? This started quite a new train of thought. Here was he. by the way. being ordered about." he said. Was this right. that Mike. The head of the house despatched his fag in search of Mike. and the strong right hand of Justice allowed to put in some energetic work. which lions seldom do) and behaving in other respects like a monarch of the desert. and went in in response to the hoarse roar from the other side of it. What was the matter with his fielding? _It_ was all right. adjusting his pince-nez (a thing. "Young Jackson. was doing a deed which would make the achievement of Daniel seem in comparison like the tentative effort of some timid novice. the massive mind of the Gazeka was filled with rage. about to receive his first eleven colours on this very day probably. You weren't at house-fielding this morning. Who _was_ he. And during that minute there floated into his mind the question. for when he said six-thirty he meant six-thirty--but of actual desertion. And outside in the cricket-field. His comments on the team's fielding that morning were bitter and sarcastic. The painful interview took place after breakfast. One may reason with oneself clearly and forcibly without the slightest effect. Didn't you see the notice?" . in coming to his den. He paced up and down the room like a hungry lion. Now he began to waver. yes. One would have felt. Previously Mike had firmly intended to get up--some time. he felt. the more outrageous did it seem that he should be dragged out of bed to please Firby-Smith's vapid mind. inconvenienced--in short. The more he considered the Gazeka's insignificance and futility and his own magnificence. Who _was_ Firby-Smith? That was the point. Was this proper? And the hands of the watch moved round to twenty to. And certainly Mike was not without qualms as he knocked at the door. and glared. I want to know what it all means. and waited. and jolly quick. His eyes gleamed behind their pince-nez. as it was gradually borne in upon him that this was not a question of mere lateness--which.Man's inability to get out of bed in the morning is a curious thing.

YOU FRIGHTFUL KID?"] Mike remained stonily silent." "Why didn't you get up then?" "I went to sleep again. When others were concerned he could suppress the true and suggest the false with a face of brass. you do. "Over-slept yourself! You must jolly well not over-sleep yourself. It was not according to his complicated. turn up or not. That's what you've got. You think the place belongs to you. His real reason for not turning up to house-fielding was that he considered himself above such things." said Mike indignantly. I've had my eye on you for some time. just listen to me. young man. yet intelligible code of morality to tell lies to save himself. "Six!" "Five past. "Do--you--see. You go siding about as if you'd bought it. "What time did you wake up?" "Six. Could he give this excuse? He had not his Book of Etiquette by him at the moment. The point is that you're one of the house team. this. you frightful kid?" [Illustration: "DO--YOU--SEE. The rather large grain of truth in what . so you've jolly well got to turn out for fielding with the others when I think it necessary. You've got swelled head.Mike admitted that he had seen the notice. "You think the whole frightful place belongs to you." "Oh. as you please." said the Gazeka shrilly. and I'm captain of it. did you? Well. Awfully embarrassing. Frightful swelled head. what do you mean by it? What?" Mike hesitated. What do you mean by over-sleeping yourself?" Very trying this sort of thing. He mentioned this. Just because you've got your second. you went to sleep again. It doesn't matter whether I'm only in the third and you're in the first. "Yes. but he felt a firm conviction that it would not be politic to say so." said Mike. and I've seen it coming on. "Then you frightful kid. and Firby-Smith a toothy weed. There was no arguing against the fact that the head of the house _was_ a toothy weed. you think you can do what you like. but he rather fancied not." "I don't. Happy thought: over-slept himself. That's got nothing to do with it. See?" Mike said nothing.

well! And what of the old homestead? Anything happened since I went away? Me old father. is he well? Has the lost will been discovered. * * * * * Mike was still full of his injuries when Wyatt came back. Well. I could do with a stoup of Malvoisie. water will do. Very heady. but that was to give the other fellows a chance. and surveyed Mike. A jug of water drawn from the well in the old courtyard where my ancestors have played as children for centuries back would just about save my life. and I suppose it always will be.Firby-Smith had said had gone home. The man who can wing a cat by moonlight can put a bullet where he likes on a target. full of the true. "Oh." . as he had nearly done once before. "Do you see?" he asked again. Zam-buk's what you want. "For pains in the back try Ju-jar." "Again! I never saw such chaps as you two. young Jackson? Rather like ginger-beer. If it's a broken heart. who had maintained a moody silence throughout this speech. A-ah!" He put down the glass. and stared at a photograph on the wall. "That's the cats. Failing that. Wyatt came back." He left the dormitory. Firby-Smith's manner became ominously calm. the blushful Hippocrene! Have you ever tasted Hippocrene. but cheerful. which was an improvement of eight places on their last year's form. brandishing a jug of water and a glass. for a beaker full of the warm south. "Me ancient skill has not deserted me." he said. I'll go down and look. The school had finished sixth for the Ashburton. He set his teeth. He produced a swagger-stick from a corner. I didn't hit the bull every time. He was determined not to give in and say that he saw even if the head of the house invoked all the majesty of the prefects' room to help him. and his feelings were hurt. or is there a mortgage on the family estates? By Jove. What was the trouble this time? Call him a grinning ape again? Your passion for the truth'll be getting you into trouble one of these days. What one really wants here is a row of stars. with a dash of raspberry-vinegar. My fatal modesty has always been a hindrance to me in life. "What's your trouble?" he asked. and Mike began to brood over his wrongs once more. and he himself had scored thirty at the two hundred and twenty-seven at the five hundred totals. Mike's jaw set more tightly. as the unpleasant truth about ourselves is apt to do. Who's been quarrelling with you?" "It's only that ass Firby-Smith. I wonder if the moke's gone to bed yet. Wyatt was worn out. Always at it. which had put him in a very good humour with the world.

you'll have a rotten time here. "Nothing like this old '87 water. and a voice 'Hear! Hear!'" Mike rolled over in bed and glared up at the orator. but his eyes stared fixedly from above it." "I didn't turn up. you've got to obey him. rather rum when you think that a burglar would get it hot for breaking in.' Or did he lead up to it in any way? Did he say." "But you can't stick on side at house-fielding." "I like you jawing about discipline. drew a deep breath. should I not talk about discipline?" "Considering you break out of the house nearly every night." "Why?" "I don't know. Otherwise. and one of them is bunking a thing when you're put down for it. Why should there be one law for the burglar and one for me? But you were ." Wyatt leaned on the end of Mike's bed. while I get dropped on if I break out." said Mike morosely. Cheers from the audience. "And why." "In passing. That's discipline. silent natures." "I mean. The speaker then paused. and say. blood as you are at cricket. I don't know. Most of his face was covered by the water-jug. a word in your ear. my gentle che-ild. It's too early in the morning. having observed its occupant thoughtfully for a moment. "I say. putting down the jug. Did you simply bunk it?" "Yes. Don't pretend to be dropping off to sleep. that 'ere is. you may have noticed it--but I must put in a well-chosen word at this juncture. but. He winked in a friendly way. and took a sip of water from the carafe which stood at his elbow. really. I defy any one to." "No." he said. Sit up and listen to what your kind old uncle's got to say to you about manners and deportment. did he buttonhole you on your way to school. and. you stick it on. proceeded to speak wisdom for the good of his soul. 'Jackson. There are some things you simply can't do. 'Talking of side."He said I stuck on side.' What had you been doing to him?" "It was the house-fielding. I don't want to jaw--I'm one of those quiet chaps with strong. You stick on side. look here. It doesn't matter who it is puts you down. "Such body." "What! Why?" "Oh. and. If he's captain.

but Wyatt's words had sunk in. these last must be things which could not be treated lightly. I don't know why. He was still furious with Firby-Smith.saying--just so. Usually Wilborough and Geddington were left to scramble for the wooden spoon. for the first time in his life. He would have perished rather than admit it." he concluded modestly. before the Ripton match. Harrow. Ripton. A player is likely to show better form if he has got his colours than if his fate depends on what he does in that particular match. By July the weeding-out process had generally finished. Wrykyn. . but it generally did. Tonbridge. That moment marked a distinct epoch in his career. and Wilborough formed a group. and Winchester are one group: Westminster and Charterhouse another: Bedford. cheerful disregard of. Wrykyn did not always win its other school matches. accompanied the cricket-master across the field to the boarding-houses. if possible. Spence which Bob Jackson had overheard. Both at cricket and football Ripton was the school that mattered most. and by the end of the season it was easy to see which was entitled to first place. This nearly always lay between Ripton and Wrykyn. Mike went to sleep with a clear idea of what the public school spirit. the other you mustn't ever break. young Jackson. About my breaking out. he had distinctly made up his mind to give Mike his first eleven colours next day. held so rigid a respect for those that were unwritten. "me. really meant. or Wrykyn. so that they might take the field with representative and not experimental teams. One you can break if you feel like taking the risks. I thank you. as far as games are concerned. Secretaries of cricket at Ripton and Wrykyn always liked to arrange the date of the match towards the end of the term. That night. yet at the same time he could not help acknowledging to himself that the latter had had the right on his side. reckless though he was as regarded written school rules. The public schools of England divide themselves naturally into little groups. or. But this did not happen often. but each played each. If Wyatt. at the end of the conversation in the pavilion with Mr. His feelings were curiously mixed. but it isn't done. Besides which the members of the teams had had time to get into form." Mike made no reply. In this way. Dulwich. When you're a white-haired old man like me. CHAPTER XX THE TEAM IS FILLED UP When Burgess. Geddington. most forms of law and order. of which so much is talked and written. would go down before Wilborough. having beaten Ripton. He saw and approved of Wyatt's point of view. you'll see that there are two sorts of discipline at school. Until you learn that. Eton. At Wrykyn it was the custom to fill up the team. That was the match with Ripton. There was no actual championship competition. Haileybury. Paul's are a third. and St. you can never hope to become the Perfect Wrykynian like. There was only one more match to be played before the school fixture-list was finished. rather. which was the more impressive to him from his knowledge of his friend's contempt for. Sometimes an exceptional Geddington team would sweep the board.

He knew that it would be a wrench definitely excluding Bob from the team. If Burgess had not picked up a particularly interesting novel after breakfast on the morning of Mike's interview with Firby-Smith in the study. "Doctor Oakes thinks he will be back in school on Tuesday. It was a difficult catch. accordingly. And. Marsh's fielding alone was worth the money. As it was. Neville-Smith was not a great bowler. "Well held. There were two vacancies. as it was not his habit to put up notices except during the morning. and Burgess waited to see if he would bring it off. The uncomfortable burden of the knowledge that he was about temporarily to sour Bob Jackson's life ceased for the moment to trouble him. and kep' in a sepyrit jug." said Burgess. but he was certain to be out in time to play against Ripton. In case of accident. Spence. And then there was only time to gather up his cap. feeling that life was good. . Bob got to it with one hand. engrossed in his book. Recollection of Bob's hard case was brought to him by the sight of that about-to-be-soured sportsman tearing across the ground in the middle distance in an effort to get to a high catch which Trevor had hit up to him. there was a week before the match. and he hated to have to do it.Burgess. and biz is biz. The report was more than favourable. The paper on which he had intended to write the list and the pen he had laid out to write it with lay untouched on the table. and Mr. Spence had voted for Mike. Finally he had consulted Mr. Burgess felt safe when he bowled. he went across to the Infirmary to Inquire about Marsh. The temptation to allow sentiment to interfere with business might have become too strong if he had waited much longer. He could write it after tea. He had fairly earned his place. The more he thought of it. After all. and he had done well in the earlier matches. He crooned extracts from musical comedy as he walked towards the nets. he let the moments go by till the sound on the bell startled him into movement. the list would have gone up on the notice-board after prayers. But." "Banzai!" said Burgess. as the poet has it. he would have kept Bob In. he postponed the thing. Burgess was glad the thing was settled. and held it. but he was steady. Marsh had better not see any one just yet." The first duty of a captain is to have no friends. * * * * * When school was over. His impetus carried him on almost to where Burgess was standing. "Pleasure is pleasure. If he could have pleased himself. But the choice between Bob and Mike had kept him awake into the small hours two nights in succession. From small causes great events do spring. With him at short slip. the sorrier he was for him. To take the field against Ripton without Marsh would have been to court disaster. One gave him no trouble. had resolved to fill up the first eleven just a week before Ripton visited Wrykyn. and sprint.

"What's up?" inquired Burgess. a sort of Captain Kettle on dry land. dashing about in the sun to improve his fielding." said the Gazeka. "You're hot stuff in the deep. There'll be worse trouble if he does it again. Then the Jekyll and Hyde business completed itself. in fact. There are many kinds of walk. "Young Jackson. It was the cricket captain who. "I couldn't get both hands to it. Firby-Smith. That by telling the captain of cricket that Mike had shirked fielding-practice he might injure the latter's prospects of a first eleven cap simply did not occur to him. came upon Firby-Smith and Mike parting at the conclusion of a conversation. Burgess passed on. To the fact that Mike and not himself was the eleventh cap he had become partially resigned: but he had wanted rather badly to play against Ripton." said Bob awkwardly. He was glad for the sake of the school." "Oh. All he considered was that the story of his dealings with Mike showed him. I was only telling him that there was going to be house-fielding to-morrow before breakfast. in the favourable and dashing character of the fellow-who-will-stand-no-nonsense. What hard luck it was! There was he." "The frightful kid cut it this morning. not an ounce of malice in the head of Wain's house. but it's all right. and became the cricket captain again. He'll be able to play on Saturday. of course. A gruesome thought had flashed across his mind that the captain might think that this gallery-work was an organised advertisement. Mike's was the walk of the Overwrought Soul." "Didn't he like the idea?" "He's jolly well got to like it. did not enter his mind. It was decidedly a blow. it may be mentioned." "Easy when you're only practising. much as a bishop might feel if he heard that a favourite curate had become a Mahometan or a Mumbo-Jumboist. That Burgess would feel. as who should say. his mind full of Bob once more. on being told of Mike's slackness. and so he proceeded to tell ." "Good. and all the time the team was filled up. How's Marsh?" "They wouldn't let me see him. swinging his cricket-bag as if it were a weapon of offence. do you mean? Oh." said Bob. He felt as if he were playing some low trick on a pal. "This way for Iron Wills." "I've just been to the Infirmary. nothing. hoping he had said it as if he meant it."Hullo. That it had not been a friendly conversation would have been evident to the most casual observer from the manner in which Mike stumped off. but one has one's personal ambitions. towards the end of the evening." There was. He suppressed his personal feelings." he explained.

therefore. than the one on that list. hurrying. * * * * * When. It was only the pleasure of seeing his name down in black-and-white that made him trouble to look at the list. There was no possibility of mistake. Trevor came out of the block. Bob. Bob's news of the day before yesterday had made it clear how that list would in detail. He felt physically sick with the shock of the disappointment. He looked at the paper. The crowd that collected the moment Burgess had walked off carried him right up to the board. and passed on. Bob had beaten him on the tape. Since writing was invented. For the initial before the name Jackson was R. there had never been an R. Keenness in fielding was a fetish with him. "Congratulate you. As he stared. met Bob coming in. it is not surprising that the list Burgess made out that night before he went to bed differed in an important respect from the one he had intended to write before school. "Hard luck!" said somebody. as he was rather late. Bob. "Congratulate you. one takes into consideration his private bias in favour of Bob. Mike happened to be near the notice-board when he pinned it up." "What's the matter now?" "Haven't you seen?" . He felt that he had been deceived in Mike. that looked less like an M. CHAPTER XXI MARJORY THE FRANK At the door of the senior block Burgess. Bob stared after him. going out. and to cut practice struck him as a crime." he said. Mike scarcely heard him. and adds to it the reaction caused by this sudden unmasking of Mike. Burgess parted with him with the firm conviction that Mike was a young slacker.

Each was gratefully conscious of the fact that prayers would be beginning in another minute. Just then." said Bob." "Hope so." said Mike. There was a short silence. I swear I heard Burgess say to Spence----" "He changed his mind probably. Mike. delicately. which was Bob's way of trying to appear unconcerned and at his ease. "Congratulate you. while Mike seemed as if at any moment he might burst into tears. I'm not. "Heard from home lately?" inquired Mike. and Burgess agree with him. as the post was late. didn't I? I've only just had time to skim through this one. and up the stairs that led to the Great Hall." "My--what? you're rotting. They moved slowly through the cloisters. Bob." The thing seemed incredible." . neither speaking. with equal awkwardness. and I only got it just as I was going to dash across to school. Spectators are not wanted at these awkward interviews. Bob's face was looking like a stuffed frog's. No reason why he shouldn't." "Thanks. When one has missed one's colours. "I believe there's a mistake." he said awkwardly. with such manifest lack of enthusiasm that Bob abandoned this line of argument. This was no place for him. for next year." Bob endeavoured to find consolation. Here it is."Seen what?" "Why the list. Not much in it. He caught sight of Bob and was passing with a feeble grin. Go and look. Trevor moved on. Had he dreamed that conversation between Spence and Burgess on the pavilion steps? Had he mixed up the names? He was certain that he had heard Spence give his verdict for Mike. Bob snatched gladly at the subject." "Well. next year seems a very. "Anyhow. you'll have three years in the first. when something told him that this was one of those occasions on which one has to show a Red Indian fortitude and stifle one's private feelings. "Got a letter from mother this morning. I showed you the last one. it's jolly rummy. came down the steps." said Mike. It'll be something to do during Math. "Thanks awfully. putting an end to an uncomfortable situation. feeling very ill. You're a cert. if you want to read it. You've got your first. very long way off. "Jolly glad you've got it." "No.

pushed his way towards him through the crowd. even an irritated look." "After you. Sure it isn't meant for me? She owes me a letter." and. that. for the first time in her life. When they had left the crowd behind. and again Bob hardly seemed to appreciate it. Bob pushed the letter into Mike's hands. but it was lessened. "I want you to read----" "Jackson!" They both turned. sitting up and taking nourishment. too. he stopped." said Mike amiably. The disappointment was still there. seeing that the conversation was . A brief spell of agony. "Read that. He seemed to have something on his mind. I'll give it you in the interval. Mike heard the words "English Essay. Evidently something had happened to upset Bob seriously. Mike was. I'll show it you outside." The arrival of the headmaster put an end to the conversation. When the bell rang for the interval that morning. Haven't had time to look at it yet." Mike resented the tone. as it were. Bob appeared curiously agitated. "Hullo. seeing Mike. in place of the blushful grin which custom demands from the man who is being congratulated on receipt of colours. The headmaster was standing on the edge of the gravel. there appeared on his face a worried.' Bob led the way across the gravel and on to the first terrace. * * * * * By a quarter to eleven Mike had begun to grow reconciled to his fate. and. "Got that letter?" "Yes. and which in time disappears altogether. He looked round. and then a dull pain of which we are not always conscious unless our attention is directed to it. it's for me all right. but followed." "No. As they went out on the gravel. and Mike noticed. He was doing this in a literal as well as in a figurative sense when Bob entered the school shop. These things are like kicks on the shin."Marjory wrote. and went up to the headmaster. with some surprise." "Why not here?" "Come on. Most of those present congratulated him as he passed. "What's up?" asked Mike." he said. somebody congratulated Bob again.

--This has been a frightful fag to write. under the desk. Bob had had cause to look worried. "From your affectionate sister "Marjory. and his friend Jack Langdale saves his life when a beast of a boatman who's really employed by Lionel's cousin who wants the money that Lionel's going to have when he grows up stuns him and leaves him on the beach to drown. Well. Lionel is going to play for the school against Loamshire. but usually she entertained rather than upset people. Ella cheeked Mademoiselle yesterday. it . and had to write out 'Little Girls must be polite and obedient' a hundred times in French. She was jolly sick about it. What should he say to Bob? What would Bob say to him? Dash it all. "I'll tell you what you ought to do. Uncle John told Father that Mike pretended to hurt his wrist so that you could play instead of him for the school. She was a breezy correspondent. I told her it served her right.S. I am quite well. He was just going to read the letter when the bell rang.-"I hope you are quite well. Most authors of sensational matter nurse their bomb-shell. and ceased to wonder. For the thousand and first time in her career of crime Marjory had been and done it! With a strong hand she had shaken the cat out of the bag. There was a curious absence of construction about the letter. But the humorous side of the thing did not appeal to him for long. Joe made eighty-three against Lancashire. Have you got your first? If you have. and let it take its chance with the other news-items. capped the headmaster and walked off. and went to his form-room wondering what Marjory could have found to say to Bob to touch him on the raw to such an extent. I've been reading a jolly good book called 'The Boys of Dormitory Two. but he goes to the headmaster and says he wants Jack to play instead of him. Phyllis has a cold. and it's _the_ match of the season. Reggie made a duck. "DEAR BOB" (the letter ran). He put the missive in his pocket. and exhibited it plainly to all whom it might concern. and Father said it was very sporting of Mike but nobody must tell you because it wouldn't be fair if you got your first for you to know that you owed it to Mike and I wasn't supposed to hear but I did because I was in the room only they didn't know I was (we were playing hide-and-seek and I was hiding) so I'm writing to tell you." For the life of him Mike could not help giggling as he pictured what Bob's expression must have been when his brother read this document.apparently going to be one of some length. with a style of her own. and display it to the best advantage.S. No suspicion of the actual contents of the letter crossed his mind. Why don't you do that? "M.' and the hero's an awfully nice boy named Lionel Tremayne. lead up to it. Marjory dropped hers into the body of the letter.P." There followed a P. He read it during school. it will be all through Mike. "P.

and Burgess was not likely to alter it. "Of course.." "I didn't think you'd ever know. But in a small community like a school it is impossible to avoid a man for ever. "But what did you do it _for_? Why should you rot up your own chances to give me a look in?" "Oh. you did _me_ a jolly good turn. or looked behind the curtains to see that the place wasn't chock-full of female kids. Marjory meant well.made him look such an awful _ass_! Anyhow. I couldn't choke him off." . "I know I ought to be grateful. He came down when you were away at Geddington. and all that." he broke off hotly. he might at least have whispered them. apparently putting the finishing-touch to some train of thought. is it all rot." Bob scratched thoughtfully at the turf with a spike of his boot. it was awfully decent----" Then again the monstrous nature of the affair came home to him. In fact he didn't see that he could do anything. I mean it was jolly good of you--Dash it all. So it came out. it was beastly awkward. "I mean. I suppose I am. "what did you want to do if _for_? What was the idea? What right have you got to go about playing Providence over me? Dash it all. No girl ought to be taught to write till she came of age. Girls oughtn't to meddle with these things." Bob stared gloomily at his toes. "Did you read it?" "Yes." "Well. You know. Besides. "How do you mean?" said Mike. They met at the nets. I don't know. that's how it was. Still. "I did. "Well?" said Bob. and would insist on having a look at my arm. The team was filled up. as if the putting his position into words had suddenly showed him how inglorious it was." he said at last. but she had put her foot right in it.. If he was going to let out things like that. You wouldn't have if only that ass Uncle John hadn't let it out. Bob couldn't do much. Confound Uncle John! Throughout the dinner-hour Mike kept out of Bob's way." said Mike. or did you--you know what I mean--sham a crocked wrist?" "Yes. and naturally he spotted right away there was nothing the matter with it. it's like giving a fellow money without consulting him.." "How did he get to know? Why did you tell him?" "He got it out of me. why should he alter it? Probably he would have given Bob his colours anyhow. And Uncle John had behaved in many respects like the Complete Rotter.

" said Bob to himself." He sidled off. and had a not unpleasant time. "if I cannot compel circumstances to my will. but it never does any good." he said. One's attitude towards Life's Little Difficulties should be that of the gentleman in the fable. who sat down on an acorn one day. This is Philosophy. it's all over now. Half a second. well. I can at least adapt my will to circumstances." "Oh. but the air was splendid and the view excellent. when he awoke. it is best to sit still and let them straighten themselves out. admitting himself beaten. I decide to remain here. You don't think I'm going to sit tight and take my first as if nothing had happened?" "What can you do? The list's up." "I'm hanged if it is. The warmth of his body caused the acorn to germinate. and happened to doze. simply to think no more about them." CHAPTER XXII WYATT IS REMINDED OF AN ENGAGEMENT There are situations in life which are beyond one." "What about it?" "Well. I just want to speak to Wyatt about something. he altered his plans. like Lionel Tremayne?" The hopelessness of the situation came over Bob like a wave. He looked helplessly at Mike. finding this impossible. he found himself sitting in the fork of an oak. When affairs get into a real tangle. Are you going to the Old Man to ask him if I can play. "I shall get in next year all right. The true philosopher is the man who says "All right. Others try to grapple with them. "Well. and slides out of such situations. rot! And do you mean to tell me it was simply because of that----?" Mike appeared to him in a totally new light. The sensible man realises this. sixty feet from the ground. anyhow. "Besides. When?" "That Firby-Smith business. Mike shuffled uneasily beneath the scrutiny. if one does not do that." Which he did. The oak lacked some of the comforts of home. . "Well." added Mike. you got me out of a jolly bad hole. Or. He stared at him as if he were some strange creature hitherto unknown to the human race." Mike said. and it grew so rapidly that. "Anyhow."I don't remember. "so I don't see what's the point of talking about it. He thought he would go home. "I must see Burgess about it. but." and goes to sleep in his arm-chair.

in it. but he had not the necessary amount of philosophy. Though. what you say doesn't help us out much. like the man in the oak-tree. He still clung to the idea that he and Burgess. These things. he did not see how eleven caps were to be divided amongst twelve candidates in such a way that each should have one." "What's the matter with you? Don't you want your first?" "Not like this. Besides. I don't know if it's occurred to you. confessed to the same to solve the problem. Lionel Tremayne and his headmaster.To-day's Great Thought for Young Readers. Can't you see what a rotten position it is for me?" "Don't you worry. seeing that the point is. Very sporting of your brother and all that. but why should you do anything? You're all right. though I'm blowed if I'd have done it myself. "But I must do something. what do you want me to do? Alter the list?" But for the thought of those unspeakable outsiders. might find some way of making things right for everybody. Tell you what. So that I'm a lot keen on putting the best team into the field. but he had the public-school boy's terror of seeming to pose or do anything theatrical. Sorry if it upsets your arrangements in any way. inability hour to get Burgess that it was "Very rum. of course." "I do." said Bob. And Burgess. though. It would not be in the picture. It took Bob at least a quarter of an the facts of the case into the captain's head." Bob agreed. He would have done a good deal to put matters right. I could easily fake up some excuse. what's to be done?" "Why do anything?" Burgess was a philosopher. but at last grasped the idea of the thing. at the moment." . but he could _not_ do the self-sacrificing young hero business. have to be carried through stealthily. It's not your fault. Your brother stood out of the team to let you in it. Bob should have done so. in council. if they are to be done at school. At which period he remarked a rum business. Imitate this man. after Mike's fashion. "Still. "I suppose you can't very well. and here you _are_. It's me. and took the line of least resistance. Bob might have answered this question in the affirmative. now it's up. consulted on the point. I don't see why I shouldn't stand out of the team for the Ripton match. What's he got to grumble about?" "He's not grumbling. You simply keep on saying you're all right. "Can't you see how rotten it is for me?" "I don't see why. but the idea is rather to win the Ripton match. if possible.

"I was afraid you mightn't be able to do anything. he did tell me." "Mind the step. as the Greek exercise books say. "Feeling good?" "Not the word for it. "Slacker? What rot! He's as keen as anything. if that's any good to you. so he proceeded to congratulate him on his colours. Wyatt. As the distance between them lessened. Not that you did. but a slack field wants skinning. with a brilliant display of front teeth. espied on the horizon a suit of cricket flannels surmounted by a huge. I've got my first. crossing the cricket-field towards the school shop in search of something fizzy that might correct a burning thirst acquired at the nets. he discovered that inside the flannels was Neville-Smith's body and behind the grin the rest of Neville-Smith's face. You know what I was saying to you about the bust I meant ." "Anyhow. all right." "He isn't so keen. thanks for reminding me. He's a young slacker."You know perfectly well Mike's every bit as good as me. that's why you've got your first instead of him. That slight smile of yours will meet behind." "Smith oughtn't to have told you. You sweated away." When Burgess had once labelled a man as that. At any rate." "What do you mean?" "Fielding. Their visit to the nets not having coincided in point of time. A bad field's bad enough. and then the top of your head'll come off." "Oh. and improved your fielding twenty per cent. Little Willie's going to buy a nice new cap and a pretty striped jacket all for his own self! I say. and I happened to be talking to Firby-Smith and found that young Mike had been shirking his. so out he went. expansive grin. if you don't look out. "Thanks. but supposing you had." "I'll tell you what you look like." "I don't care. his keenness isn't enough to make him turn out for house-fielding." said Burgess. * * * * * At about the time when this conversation was in progress. There won't be any changes from the team I've put up on the board. whatever happens." said Bob." said Neville-Smith.. Wyatt had not seen his friend since the list of the team had been posted on the board." "Well. So you see how it is. he did not readily let the idea out of his mind. I remember what it was I wanted to say to you. If you really want to know. So long. I feel like--I don't know what.

can't you?" "Delighted. I shall manage it." "Good man. Still. nor iron bars a cage. anyhow it's to-night. It's just above the porch. eleven'll do me all right." "But one or two day-boys are coming." "No." "They ought to allow you a latch-key." "You _will_ turn up." "The race is degenerating. I get on very well. and I'll come down.' That's what the man said who wrote the libretto for the last set of Latin Verses we had to do." As Wyatt was turning away. You'll see the window of my room. Said he didn't want to miss his beauty-sleep. Still. Anything for a free feed in these hard times. Who are coming besides me?" "No boarders. They all funked have at home in honour of my getting my first. And Henfrey backed out because he thought the risk of being sacked wasn't good enough. I've often thought of asking my pater for one. I expect." "Yes. I'll try to do as little damage as possible. All the servants'll have gone to bed. now I come to think of it--what do I do? Ring the bell and send in my card? or smash the nearest window and climb in?" "Don't make too much row. which I have--well. I needn't throw a brick. if you like." "When I get to your place--I don't believe I know the way. for one." "Said it wasn't good enough. a sudden compunction seized upon . I'm going to get the things now. I don't blame him--I might feel like that myself if I'd got another couple of years at school." "The school is going to the dogs." "So will the glass--with a run. Heave a pebble at it. Clephane is. We shall have rather a rag. for goodness sake. Who did you ask?" "Clowes was one. After all. if I did. You can roll up." "That's an aspect of the thing that might occur to some people. And Beverley. It'll be the only one lighted up." "How are you going to get out?" "'Stone walls do not a prison make. Make it a bit earlier. What time did you say it was?" "Eleven. won't you?" "Nothing shall stop me.

I've got to climb two garden walls." "When are you going to start?" "About five minutes after Wain has been round the dormitories to see that all's well. we must make the best of things. No catch steeple-chasing if you're like that. and I shall probably be so full of Malvoisie that you'll be able to hear it swishing about inside me. "but this is the maddest. I should have gone out anyhow to-night. Still. you always are breaking out at night." "Are you going?" "If I can tear myself away from your delightful society. No climbing or steeple-chasing needed at all. Ginger-beer will flow like water. If so. There was one particular dustbin where one might be certain of flushing a covey any night. "Don't you worry about me. "What's up?" he asked.Neville-Smith." Mike could not help thinking that for himself it was the very reverse. They've no thought for people's convenience here. "I say. I don't know if he keeps a dog. "Neville-Smith's giving a meal at his place in honour of his getting his first." Wyatt very seldom penetrated further than his own garden on the occasions when he roamed abroad at night. All you have to do is to open the window and step out. He called him back. merriest day of all the glad New Year." "Don't go getting caught. I am to stand underneath his window and heave bricks till something happens. and a sardine is roasting whole in the market-place. getting back." said Wyatt. The kick-off is fixed for eleven sharp. I've used all mine. aren't you? I don't want to get you into a row. I shall probably get bitten to the bone. but he did not state his view of the case. that's all right. do you? I mean. you don't think it's too risky. though." "Oh. and the wall by the . That ought to be somewhere about half-past ten. No expense has been spared. The oldest cask of lemonade has been broached." "I shall do my little best not to be. Push us over a pinch of that tooth-powder of yours." CHAPTER XXIII A SURPRISE FOR MR." said Wyatt to Mike in the dormitory that night. Rather tricky work. I understand the preparations are on a scale of the utmost magnificence. Now at Bradford they've got studies on the ground floor. the windows looking out over the boundless prairie. For cat-shooting the Wain spinneys were unsurpassed. APPLEBY "You may not know it.

Then he decided on the latter. and a garden always had a beastly appearance in winter. Appleby. and spent what few moments he could spare from work and games pottering about it. dusted his trousers. There was a full moon. At present there remained much to be done. Much better have flowers. and get a decent show for one's money in . He took up his position in the shadow of a fir-tree with his back to the house. take away those laurels at the end of the lawn. For a few moments he debated the rival claims of a stroll in the cricket-field and a seat in the garden. whereas flowers died and left an empty brown bed in the winter. At ten-fifteen it had struck Mr. He dropped cautiously into Appleby's garden. So he took a deck-chair which leaned against the wall. The window of his study was open. and it was a long way round to the main entrance. Crossing this. that a pipe in the open would make an excellent break in his night's work. It was a glorious July night. He climbed down from the wall that ran beneath the dormitory window into the garden belonging to Mr. and enjoyed the scents and small summer noises. and have a flower-bed there instead? Laurels lasted all the year round. Half-past ten had just chimed from the school clock. but then laurels were nothing much to look at at any time. ran lightly across it. and the scent of the flowers came to him with a curious distinctness as he let himself down from the dormitory window. He had acquired a slight headache as the result of correcting a batch of examination papers. At any other time he might have made a lengthy halt. Nothing like a little fresh air for putting him right. whatever you did to it. looking out of his study into the moonlit school grounds. Why not. it is true. He was fond of his garden. and strolled meditatively in the direction of the town. Appleby. * * * * * Now it happened that he was not alone in admiring the beauty of that particular night. and where he stood he could be seen distinctly from the windows of both houses. and let himself out of the back door. There he paused. the master who had the house next to Mr. but now he felt that it would be better not to delay.potting-shed was a feline club-house. But when he did wish to get out into the open country he had a special route which he always took. This was the route which he took to-night. and he thought that an interval of an hour in the open air before approaching the half-dozen or so papers which still remained to be looked at might do him good. He had his views as to what the ideal garden should be. true. and dropped from it into a small lane which ended in the main road leading to Wrykyn town. The little gate in the railings opposite his house might not be open. but the room had got hot and stuffy. From here he could see the long garden. and he hoped in time to tinker his own three acres up to the desired standard. he climbed another wall. and was in the lane within a minute. which had suffered on the two walls. Wain's. but on these occasions it was best to take no risks. sniffing as he walked. "What a night!" he said to himself. for instance. They were all dark. He was in plenty of time.

of course. on hands and knees. was a different thing altogether. There are times when a master must waive sentiment. and owes a duty directly to his headmaster. the extent of the damage done. The surprise. The difficulty here was to say exactly what the game was. however. but he may use his discretion. The moon had shone full on his face as he left the flowerbed. and remember that he is in a position of trust. but the sound was too slight to reach Wyatt. and it had been possible to convey the impression that he had not seen him. Appleby had left his chair. he had recognised him. and the agony of feeling that large boots were trampling among his treasures kept him transfixed for just the length of time necessary for Wyatt to cross the garden and climb the opposite wall. at the end of which period he discovered that his pipe had gone out. He knew that there were times when a master might. without blame. It was not the idea of a boy breaking out of his house at night that occurred to him first as particularly heinous. It was on another plane. It is an interesting point that it was the gardener rather than the schoolmaster in Mr. liked and respected by boys and masters. Mr. As he dropped into the lane. As far as he could see. With a sigh of relief Mr. That reveller was walking down the Wrykyn road before Mr. Appleby that first awoke to action. If he had met Wyatt out of bounds in the day-time. It was not an easy question. A master must check it if it occurs too frequently. to the parents. it was not serious. he would have done so. The problem of the bed at the end of the lawn occupied his complete attention for more than a quarter of an hour. wondering how he should act. bade him forget the episode. . In that startled moment when Wyatt had suddenly crossed his line of vision. By a happy accident Wyatt's boots had gone home to right and left of precious plants but not on them. Appleby smoothed over the cavities. There was no doubt in his mind as to the identity of the intruder.summer at any rate. In four strides he was on the scene of the outrage. Sentiment. That was the simple way out of the difficulty. treat it as if it had never happened. and indirectly. through the headmaster. with the aid of the moonlight. He went his way openly. Appleby. and rose to his feet. and. it was the fact that the boy had broken out _via_ his herbaceous border. He receives a salary for doing this duty. At this point it began to strike him that the episode affected him as a schoolmaster also. He paused. He was just feeling for his matches to relight it when Wyatt dropped with a slight thud into his favourite herbaceous border. if he feels that sentiment is too strong for him. There was nothing unsporting about Mr. examining. close his eyes or look the other way. He always played the game. Breaking out at night. Appleby. he should resign in favour of some one of tougher fibre. There was nothing of the spy about Mr. Appleby recovered himself sufficiently to emit a sort of strangled croak. To be out of bounds is not a particularly deadly sin.

Wain.This was the conclusion to which Mr. Appleby said this with a tinge of bitterness. only it's something important. and leave him to deal with it as he thought best. Appleby vaulted on to the window-sill. in the middle of which stood Mr. he folded his deck-chair and went into the house. and he had a view of a room littered with books and papers. Appleby. CHAPTER XXIV CAUGHT "Got some rather bad news for you. having a pipe before finishing the rest of my papers. * * * * * Knocking out the ashes of his pipe against a tree. "Wouldn't have disturbed you." Mr. . and walked round to Wain's. but they would have to wait. The thing still rankled. and Wyatt dropped from the wall on to my herbaceous border. Wain?" he said. I'm afraid. Appleby could not help feeling how like Wain it was to work on a warm summer's night in a hermetically sealed room. instead of through the agency of the headmaster. There was always something queer and eccentric about Wyatt's step-father." said Mr. greatly to Mr. Mr. I'll climb in through here. Exceedingly so. Wain's surprise and rather to his disapproval." "Sorry." And. Appleby." "James!" "I was sitting in my garden a few minutes ago. shall I? No need to unlock the door. "Can I have a word with you. He turned down his lamp." began Mr. Mr. if you don't mind. Appleby came over his relighted pipe. About Wyatt. Wain. "Appleby! Is there anything the matter? I was startled when you tapped. The examination papers were spread invitingly on the table. and squeezed through into the room. He could not let the matter rest where it was. "I'll smoke. He tapped on the window. It was one of the few cases where it was possible for an assistant master to fulfil his duty to a parent directly. Wain recognised his visitor and opened the window. and the sound of a chair being pushed back told him that he had been heard. Mr. like a sea-beast among rocks. There was a light in one of the ground-floor windows. In ordinary circumstances it would have been his duty to report the affair to the headmaster but in the present case he thought that a slightly different course might be pursued. The blind shot up. He would lay the whole thing before Mr.

" "I will." "No." "Possibly. That is certainly the course I should pursue. You're the parent. He hoped . Got a pile of examination papers to look over. You are quite right. If you come to think of it. Appleby. then." "Good-night. I am astonished. Why. I don't see why you should drag in the master at all here." "You must have been mistaken. Remember that it must mean expulsion if you report him to the headmaster. Exceedingly so." "You astound me. Everybody who has ever broken out of his house here and been caught has been expelled." "He's not there now." "I don't see why." Mr."James! In your garden! Impossible." Mr. He would have no choice. a headmaster's only a sort of middleman between boys and parents. Dear me." "So was I. He had taken the only possible course. things might not be so bad for Wyatt after all." "Bars can be removed. Tackle the boy when he comes in. He was wondering what would happen. You are not going?" "Must. "I ought to report it to the headmaster. and. and have it out with him. Wain drummed on the table with his fingers. It's like daylight out of doors. You can deal with the thing directly. Good-night. Wain on reflection. He plays substitute for the parent in his absence. Appleby. Appleby offered no suggestion." said Mr. Appleby made his way out of the window and through the gate into his own territory in a pensive frame of mind. "A good deal. it is not a quarter of an hour since I left him in his dormitory. Appleby. this is most extraordinary. "Let's leave it at that. "What shall I do?" Mr. Gaping astonishment is always apt to be irritating." "There is certainly something in what you say." "How is such a thing possible? His window is heavily barred. Yes. if only Wain kept his head and did not let the matter get through officially to the headmaster. sit down. Appleby. I should strongly advise you to deal with the thing yourself." said Mr. That is a very good idea of yours. Sorry to have disturbed you. It isn't like an ordinary case. You are certain it was James?" "Perfectly. a little nettled.

. Gradually he began to convince himself of this. And the bars across the window had looked so solid. and the night was warm. Mr. Wain sat on for some minutes after his companion had left. For years he and Wyatt had lived in a state of armed neutrality.. He was the house-master about to deal with a mutineer. Wyatt he had regarded. he reflected wrathfully. pondering over the news he had heard. Appleby was the last man who would willingly have reported a boy for enjoying a midnight ramble. Altogether it was very painful and disturbing. If he had gone out. Probably talk violently for as long as he could keep it up. But he was the last man to shirk the duty of reporting him. Could Appleby have been dreaming? Something of the kind might easily have happened. and he was taking a rather gloomy view of the assistant master's lot as he sat down to finish off the rest of his examination papers. and walked quietly upstairs. from the moment when the threads of their lives became entangled. vigil that he kept in the dormitory... he turned the door-handle softly and went in. if he were to be expelled. If further proof had been needed. Appleby had been right. But there had never been anything even remotely approaching friendship between them. as a complete nuisance. merely because it was one decidedly not to his taste. and then consider the episode closed. Mr. broken by various small encounters. therefore.. Wain was not a man who inspired affection readily. by silent but mutual agreement. The moon shone in through the empty space. asleep. and nothing else. It was not all roses. He had been working hard. Mr. they had kept out of each other's way as much as possible. the life of an assistant master at a public school. He took a candle. it was true. a sorrowful. but apparently on the verge of dropping off. It would be a thousand pities. He blew the candle out. It was not. There was nothing of the sorrowing father about his frame of mind. But the other bed was empty. and waited there in the semi-darkness. he felt. This breaking-out.they would not. What would Wain do? What would _he_ do in a similar case? It was difficult to say. one of the bars was missing from the window. and turned over with his face to the wall as the light shone on his eyes. thinking. Lately. He had continually to be sinking his own individual sympathies in the claims of his duty. and it had become rare for the house-master to have to find fault officially with his step-son. he would hardly have returned yet.. Nor did he easily grow fond of others. Arrived at his step-son's dormitory. Even now he clung to the idea that Appleby had made some extraordinary mistake. was the last straw. least of all in those many years younger than himself. He doubted whether Wain would have the common sense to do this. He grunted. Mike was there. Then it occurred to him that he could easily prove or disprove the truth of his colleague's statement by going to the dormitory and seeing if Wyatt were there or not. The house-master sat down quietly on the vacant bed. so much as an exasperated. He liked Wyatt. The light of the candle fell on both beds. He had seen Wyatt actually in bed a quarter of an hour before--not asleep. .

father!" he said pleasantly. which is what really happens to us on receipt of a bad shock. what would be the effect of such a sight on Wyatt. He lay down again without a word. A sickening feeling that the game was up beyond all hope of salvation came to him. And--this was a particularly grateful reflection--a fortnight annually was the limit of the holiday allowed by the management to its junior employees. broken every now and then by the creak of the other bed. At that moment Mr. Wain relit his candle. "Hullo!" said Mike. immediately. Then he seemed to recover himself. Wyatt dusted his knees. There was literally no way out. Absolutely and entirely the game was up. The most brilliant of _coups_ could effect nothing now. What a frightful thing to happen! How on earth had this come about? What in the world had brought Wain to the dormitory at that hour? Poor old Wyatt! If it had upset _him_ (Mike) to see the house-master in the room. In a calm and leisurely manner he climbed into the room.Wyatt's presence had been a nervous inconvenience to him for years. Mr. when Mike Jackson suddenly sat up. The unexpected glare took Wyatt momentarily aback. Mike saw him start. . Wain. Wyatt should not be expelled. and was beginning to feel a little cramped. The discipline of the bank would be salutary and steadying. He would write to the bank before he went to bed. Then a very faint scraping noise broke the stillness. and that immediately. and presently the patch of moonlight on the floor was darkened. is that you. Dead silence reigned in the dormitory. Jackson. His voice sounded ominously hollow. as the house-master shifted his position. Twelve boomed across the field from the school clock. "Go to sleep. Mike could not help thinking what a perfect night it must be for him to be able to hear the strokes so plainly. His mind went back to the night when he had saved Wyatt by a brilliant _coup_. "James!" said Mr. and the letter should go by the first post next day. * * * * * Every minute that passed seemed like an hour to Mike. It was with a comfortable feeling of magnanimity that he resolved not to report the breach of discipline to the headmaster. Wain had arrived at this conclusion. But he should leave." snapped the house-master. returning from the revels at Neville-Smith's! And what could he do? Nothing. "Hullo. The time had come to put an end to it. but could hear nothing. but he had never before experienced that sensation of something hot and dry springing in the throat. asking them to receive his step-son at once. and rubbed his hands together. He strained his ears for any indication of Wyatt's approach. Mike had often heard and read of people's hearts leaping to their mouths.

really. it seemed a long silence. I say. it's awful.CHAPTER XXV MARCHING ORDERS A silence followed. I suppose. and Wyatt suddenly began to chuckle. About an hour. As a matter of fact it lasted for perhaps ten seconds. "I shall talk to you in my study. "Yes. Wain spoke. sir." said Wyatt. "It's all right. Exceedingly astonished. Mike began to get alarmed. but I'm afraid it's a case of 'Au revoir. Wyatt continued to giggle helplessly. I should say----" "You don't think----?" "The boot. completely thrown off his balance by the events of the night. lying in bed." "I got a bit of a start myself. holding his breath.' We . "I say." "It's the funniest thing I've ever struck. I say. my little Hyacinth. Follow me there. To Mike. and all the time him camping out on my bed!" "But look here. now. "That reminds me." "Yes. The swift and sudden boot. "You have been out." said Wyatt. Wyatt!" said Mike. do you think?" "Ah." "What'll he do. sir. What'll happen?" "That's for him to decide. Speaking at a venture. I shall be sorry to part with you. James?" It is curious how in the more dramatic moments of life the inane remark is the first that comes to us. rolling with laughter." He left the room. "But. Me sweating to get in quietly. what!" "But. He flung himself down on his bed. what'll happen?" Wyatt sat up. Then Mr. how long had he been sitting there?" "It seemed hours. Suppose I'd better go down." said Wyatt at last. "I am astonished. speaking with difficulty.

One of his slippers fell off with a clatter. out of the house." "And. We'd better all get to bed _some_ time to-night. are you in the habit of violating the strictest school rules by absenting yourself from the house during the night?" "Yes. sir. "Well?" "I haven't one. "Exceedingly. choking sob. at that hour?" "I went for a walk. Years hence a white-haired bank-clerk will tap at your door when you're a prosperous professional cricketer with your photograph in _Wisden_. Well." "The fact is----" said Wyatt." "This is an exceedingly serious matter. Wain was fumbling restlessly with his papers when Wyatt appeared. minions. and began to tap the table. may I inquire." explained Wyatt. This is my Moscow. "It slipped. Where are me slippers? Ha. To-morrow I shall go out into the night with one long. sir.shall meet at Philippi. Wyatt sat down. James. I suppose I'd better go down." "I'll tell you all the latest news when I come back. 'tis well! Lead on." Mr. "Well. Mr." Wyatt nodded agreement with this view. "I should be glad to hear your explanation of this disgraceful matter." he said. then. Don't go to sleep. That'll be me. I follow." "Not likely. "Only my slipper." The pen rose and fell with the rapidity of the cylinder of a . James?" Wyatt said nothing." "What were you doing out of your dormitory." * * * * * In the study Mr." "What?" "Yes. Wain took up a pen. Wain jumped nervously. sir. "Sit down. sir.

I say that your punishment will be no whit less severe than would be that of any other boy. and resumed the thread of his discourse. Have you anything to say?" Wyatt reflected." "Of course." Wyatt nodded. "I wish you wouldn't do that. Wyatt. approvingly. I shall write to-morrow to the manager asking him to receive you at once----" "After all. to see this attitude in you. sir. You are aware of the penalty for such an action as yours?" "The sack. "that I shall treat you exactly as I should treat any other member of my house whom I had detected in the same misdemeanour." Mr. Do you understand? That is all. Tap like that." "You will leave directly I receive his letter. At once. Wain. watching it." "Studied impertinence----" "I'm very sorry. I have already secured a nomination for you in the London and Oriental Bank. It's sending me to sleep. "I must ask you not to interrupt me when I am speaking to you. "I am sorry. In a minute or two he would be asleep." "James!" "It's like a woodpecker. You will not go to school to-morrow. James." said Wyatt laconically. "It is expulsion. . I mean. Exceedingly so. exceedingly. It is impossible for me to overlook it.motor-car. ignoring the interruption. You must leave the school. "As you know." "I need hardly say. I shall arrange with the headmaster that you are withdrawn privately----" "_Not_ the sack?" "Withdrawn privately. Wain suspended tapping operations. but this is a far more serious matter." continued Mr. father. Only it _was_ sending me off. became suddenly aware that the thing was hypnotising him. You have repeatedly proved yourself lacking in ballast and a respect for discipline in smaller ways. Your conduct has been lax and reckless in the extreme. It is not fitting. It is in keeping with your behaviour throughout. It is possible that you imagine that the peculiar circumstances of our relationship secure you from the penalties to which the ordinary boy----" "No. James." said Wyatt. they only gain an extra fortnight of me. even were I disposed to do so.

Wyatt kicked off his slippers. and the day after I become the gay young bank-clerk. all amongst the ink and ledgers. his eyes rolling in a fine frenzy. I don't think----" His eye fell on a tray bearing a decanter and a syphon. Wain were public property. "It would have happened anyhow in another fortnight. Burgess came up. yes." he said. Mike."No. "Can't I mix you a whisky and soda. and began to undress. before I go off to bed?" * * * * * "Well?" said Mike. CHAPTER XXVI THE AFTERMATH Bad news spreads quickly." said Wyatt cheerfully. He isn't coming to school again. . "Buck up. as an actual spectator of the drama. as befitted a good cricket captain." "What? When?" "He's left already. "Oh. The reflection was doubtless philosophic." Burgess's first thought. So why worry?" Mike was still silent. "What happened?" "We chatted. or some rot. By the quarter to eleven interval next day the facts concerning Wyatt and Mr. he's got to leave." [Illustration: "WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT JIMMY WYATT?"] "So he has--at least. As he told the story to a group of sympathisers outside the school shop." Mike was miserably silent. father. was in great request as an informant. was for his team. "Anybody seen young--oh." "Has he let you off?" "Like a gun. What's all this about Jimmy Wyatt? They're saying he's been sacked. here you are. but it failed to comfort him. To-morrow I take a well-earned rest away from school. I shoot off almost immediately.

" They separated in the direction of their respective form-rooms." "What's he going to do? Going into that bank straight away?" "Yes. however. his pal. with a return to the austere manner of the captain of cricket. you see." "I should like to say good-bye. anyway."And the Ripton match on Saturday!" Nobody seemed to have anything except silent sympathy at his command. He'd have been leaving anyhow in a fortnight. the cricket captain wrote a letter to Wyatt during preparation that night which would have satisfied even Mike's sense of what was fit. "All the same. one member of the school who did not treat the episode as if it were merely an . The school was not so much regretful as comfortably thrilled. Hope he does. "What rot for him!" "Beastly. You'll play on Saturday. one exception to the general rule. but the chief sensation seemed to be one of pleasurable excitement at the fact that something big had happened to break the monotony of school routine. Look here." agreed Mike. "Dash the man! Silly ass! What did he want to do it for! Poor old Jimmy. They treated the thing much as they would have treated the announcement that a record score had been made in first-class cricket. The Wyatt disaster was too recent for him to feel much pleasure at playing against Ripton _vice_ his friend. Most of them who had come to him for information had expressed a sort of sympathy with the absent hero of his story. I suppose you won't be seeing him before he goes?" "I shouldn't think so." "He'll find it rather a change. There was. You know." continued Burgess. and he's taken him away from the school." "All right. only it's awful rot for a chap like Wyatt to have to go and froust in a bank for the rest of his life. withdrawn. though!" he added after a pause. that's the part he bars most. They met in the cloisters. "I say. during the night. Not unless he comes to the dorm. but I shouldn't be surprised if he nipped out after Wain has gone to bed. Mike felt resentful towards Burgess. But Mike had no opportunity of learning this. He's sleeping over in Wain's part of the house. Mike felt bitter and disappointed at the way the news had been received. But I don't suppose it'll be possible." said Mike. I expect. young Jackson. last night after Neville-Smith's. and it offended him that the school should take the tidings of his departure as they had done. you'll turn out for fielding with the first this afternoon. Mike!" said Bob. And Burgess had actually cursed before sympathising. what's all this about Wyatt?" "Wain caught him getting back into the dorm. Bob was the next to interview him. "he might have chucked playing the goat till after the Ripton match. Wyatt was his best friend. "Hullo. without enthusiasm. As a matter of fact.

Neville-Smith heard of what had happened towards the end of the interval. and it was while coming back from that that Wyatt got collared. He was silent for a moment after Mike had finished. we shall play Ripton on Saturday with a sort of second eleven.interesting and impersonal item of sensational news. plunged in meditation." Mike was not equal to the task conscience. do you?" "What's happened now?" "Neville-Smith. Jackson. Well." said Mike. They walked on without further Wain's gate. He was too late to catch him before he went to his form-room. he'd probably have gone out somewhere else. I'm blowed if Neville-Smith doesn't toddle off to the Old Man after school to-day and tell him the whole yarn! Said it was all his fault. "Nothing much. where Mike left him.and second-change bowlers out of the team for the Ripton match in one day. "It was all my fault. "I say. Bob. and we shall take the field on Saturday with a scratch side of kids from the Junior School. when the bell rang for the end of morning school." said Burgess. came upon the captain of cricket standing apart from his fellow men with an expression on his face that spoke of mental upheavals on a vast scale. by the way. "It was absolutely my fault. "Only that. What rot! Sort of thing that might have happened to any one." "Oh. way. this wouldn't have happened. "What happened?" Mike related the story for the sixteenth time. and rushed off instantly in search of Mike." he said at length. what's he been doing?" "Apparently he gave a sort of supper to celebrate his getting his first." "Neville-Smith! Why." . is this true about old Wyatt?" Mike nodded. Only our first. He did not attempt conversation till they reached Neville-Smith proceeded on his of soothing Neville-Smith's wounded it. going over to the nets rather late in the afternoon. It was a melancholy pleasure to have found a listener who heard the tale in the right spirit. There was no doubt about Neville-Smith's interest and sympathy. "What's up?" asked Bob. What a fool I was to ask him to my place! I might have known he would be caught. I don't know. If Wyatt hadn't gone to him. so he waited for him at half-past twelve. That's all. In extra on Saturday. with a forced and grisly calm. You don't happen to have got sacked or anything. The result of which meditation was that Burgess got a second shock before the day was out. "If it hadn't been for me. I suppose by to-morrow half the others'll have gone. as far as I can see.

C. to start with. was profoundly ignorant as to the details by which his father's money had been. did he?" Mike. Like Mr. He's a jolly good shot. you never know what's going to happen at cricket.C. Mike. from all accounts. his father had gone over there for a visit. . that's to say." said Bob. And he can ride. who asked nothing better than to be left in charge. But he still had a decided voice in the ordering of affairs on the ranches. he'd jump at anything. They whacked the M. the Argentine Republic. I shouldn't wonder if it wasn't rather a score to be able to shoot out there. and once. made. who believed in taking no chances. Jackson had returned to the home of his fathers." "Are Ripton strong this year?" asked Bob. a stout fellow with the work-taint highly developed. and Mike was going to the fountain-head of things when he wrote to his father that night. three years ago. As a matter of fact. Wain's dressing-room."And the Old Man shoved him in extra?" "Next two Saturdays. The reflection that he had done all that could be done tended to console him for the non-appearance of Wyatt either that night or next morning--a non-appearance which was due to the simple fact that he passed that night in a bed in Mr. I know. the door of which that cautious pedagogue. I may hold a catch for a change. "I wanted to see you. Spenlow. I should think. Mike's father owned vast tracts of land up country. So Mr.C." "Oh. Jolly hot team of M. well. He only knew vaguely that the source of revenue had something to do with the Argentine. His brother Joe had been born in Buenos Ayres." "By Jove. I'll write to father to-night. If it comes off. "Very. presumably on business. It's about Wyatt. All these things seemed to show that Mr. for lack of anything better to say. Stronger than the one we drew with." "What's that?" "A way of getting him out of that bank. too. where countless sheep lived and had their being. he had a partner.C. He had long retired from active superintendence of his estate. "I say. glad to be there again. or was being. as most other boys of his age would have been. Bob went on his way to the nets." Burgess grunted. putting forward Wyatt's claims to attention and ability to perform any sort of job with which he might be presented. What's the idea?" "Why shouldn't he get a job of sorts out in the Argentine? There ought to be heaps of sound jobs going there for a chap like Wyatt. Mike was just putting on his pads. He never chucked the show altogether. He must be able to work it. I've thought of something. Jackson senior was a useful man to have about if you wanted a job in that Eldorado." "By Jove.

in which he was to inscribe the addresses of all out-going letters. Well.. He added that being expelled from a public school was not the only qualification for success as a sheep-farmer. He said he would go and see Wyatt early in the next week. and a skill for picking off cats with an air-pistol and bull's-eyes with a Lee-Enfield." "Cricketer?" "Yes. if Mike's friend added to this a general intelligence and amiability." "H'm . He said that he hoped something could be managed. Blenkinsop had led him up to a vast ledger." "Everything?" "Yes.locked from the outside on retiring to rest. Racquets?" "Yes. but to the point. It was a pity that a boy accustomed to shoot cats should be condemned for the rest of his life to shoot nothing more exciting than his cuffs. CHAPTER XXVII THE RIPTON MATCH Mike got an answer from his father on the morning of the Ripton match.. In any case he would buy him a lunch." "H'm . Sportsman?" "Yes. sir. so that Wyatt would extract at least some profit from his visit. sir. He had first had a brief conversation with the manager. sir. which had run as follows: "Mr. A letter from Wyatt also lay on his plate when he came down to breakfast." "Play football?" "Yes. and subsequently take in bundles to the . Mr. sir. sir. sir. These letters he would then stamp. It might have been published under the title "My First Day in a Bank.. there was no reason why something should not be done for him. Wyatt?" "Yes.. you won't get any more of it now.. but that. by a Beginner. Wyatt's letter was longer." "H'm ." After which a Mr. Jackson's letter was short.." His advent had apparently caused little sensation.

Burgess.C. There were twelve colours given three years ago. and at six in the morning there was every prospect of another hot day. The sky was a dull grey at breakfast time. "Just what I was thinking. If he could only make a century! or even fifty." "I wish we _had_ Rhodes. It was a day on which to win the toss. Spence during the quarter to eleven interval. Spence. if the sun comes out. "I should cook the accounts. except where a flush of deeper colour gave a hint of the sun. Even twenty.C. inspecting the wicket with Mr. At eleven-thirty. Runs would come easily till the sun came out and began to dry the ground. Spence." "That wicket's going to get nasty after lunch. this. match. so he diverted the conversation on to the subject of the general aspect of the school's attack. Burgess?" . I suppose you are playing against Ripton. as far as his chance of his first was office. It was Victory or Westminster Abbey now. It would just suit him. Honours were heaped upon him. I suppose. Burgess." wrote Wyatt. when the match was timed to begin. because one chap left at half-term and the man who played instead of him came off against Ripton." said Mr. The Ripton match was a special event. and go in first. sir. and then perhaps Burgess'll give you your first after all. During the Friday rain had fallen almost incessantly in a steady drizzle. 'Hints for Young Criminals. now that the world of commerce has found that it can't get on without me. was not going to be drawn into discussing Wyatt and his premature departure. Once a week he would be required to buy stamps. He was as nervous on the Saturday morning as he had been on the morning of the M.' So long. When that happened there would be trouble for the side that was batting." * * * * * This had occurred to Mike independently.' which is a sort of start. "I should win the toss to-day. Still. would be as useless as not playing at all. I have stamped this letter at the expense of the office. by J. champion catch-as-catch-can stamp-stealer of the British Isles. But it doesn't seem in my line. "Or even Wyatt. and the man who performed any outstanding feat against that school was treated as a sort of Horatius. and entered it up under the heading 'Sundries. To do only averagely well. if it got the school out of a tight place. I'm afraid I wasn't cut out for a business career. the wicket would be too wet to be difficult. It was evident to those who woke early on the Saturday morning that this Ripton match was not likely to end in a draw. Wyatt. as a member of the staff." said Burgess. if I were you. It had stopped late at night. Mind you make a century." Mr. A regular Rhodes wicket it's going to be. and embezzle stamps to an incredible amount. "If I were one of those Napoleons of Finance. "Who will go on first with you. Look out for an article in the _Wrykynian_. to be among the ruck. was not slow to recognise this fact. There was that feeling in the air which shows that the sun is trying to get through the clouds.

about our batting." * * * * * Burgess and Maclaine. "It's awfully good of you to suggest it. He was crocked when they came here. that that sort of ball is easier to watch on a slow wicket." "I don't think a lot of that. "It's a nuisance too." "That rain will have a lot to answer for if we lose."Who do you think. I've lost the toss five times running. Ellerby. The other's yours. Mac. You call." "You'll put us in. were old acquaintances." "Heads. "We'll go in first. though I'm afraid you'll have a poor time bowling fast to-day. He played wing three for them at footer against us this year on their ground. Looks as if it were going away. above all. I don't know of him. "One consolation is. that's a . And. as they met on the pavilion steps after they had changed. If he'd had a chance of getting a bit of practice yesterday. so I was bound to win to-day." "I know the chap. It's a hobby of mine." "I should. of the Bosanquet type. He wasn't in the team last year. A boy called de Freece. This end. the Ripton captain. win the toss. They had been at the same private school." "Oh. He's a pretty useful chap all round. I ought to have warned you that you hadn't a chance. though. I was talking to a man who played against them for the Nomads. we sha'n't have long to wait for our knock. I think. and comes in instead." "Well." said Burgess ruefully. and they had played against one another at football and cricket for two years now. sir? Ellerby? It might be his wicket. Marsh will probably be dead out of form after being in the Infirmary so long." Ellerby bowled medium inclining to slow." said Maclaine. well. but that they've got a slow leg-break man who might be dangerous on a day like this. "Certainly. Plays racquets for them too. On a dry. I suppose?" "Yes--after us." "I must win the toss. On a pitch that suited him he was apt to turn from leg and get people out caught at the wicket or short slip. "but I think we'll toss. it might have been all right. I believe." said Burgess. Even with plenty of sawdust I doubt if it will be possible to get a decent foothold till after lunch." said Burgess." "Tails it is. hard wicket I'm certain we should beat them four times out of six. my friend said he had one very dangerous ball. I must tell the fellows to look out for it. He said that on a true wicket there was not a great deal of sting in their bowling.

They meant to force the game.comfort. The pitch had begun to play tricks. gave place to Grant. after hitting the first two balls to the boundary. and let's get at you. Maclaine. The policy proved successful for a time. for whom constant practice had robbed this sort of catch of its terrors. At this rate Ripton would be out before lunch for under a hundred. A yorker from Burgess disposed of the next man before he could settle down. At sixty Ellerby." And Burgess went off to tell the ground-man to have plenty of sawdust ready. as he would want the field paved with it. The deterioration of the wicket would be slow during that period. Burgess began to look happier. There is a certain type of school batsman who considers that to force the game means to swipe blindly at every ball on the chance of taking it half-volley. run out. Twenty came in ten minutes. who relied on a run that was a series of tiger-like leaps culminating in a spring that suggested that he meant to lower the long jump record. he was compelled to tread cautiously. as also happened now. and Bob. * * * * * The policy of the Ripton team was obvious from the first over. At thirty-five the first wicket fell. His contentment increased when he got the next man leg-before-wicket with the total unaltered. was large enough in view of the fact that the pitch was already becoming more difficult. The change worked. Buck up and send some one in. Already the sun was beginning to peep through the haze. Maclaine's instructions to his men were to go on hitting. But the rot stopped with the fall of that wicket. Burgess. but it means that wickets will fall. but the score. Dashing tactics were laid aside. For about an hour run-getting ought to be a tolerably simple process. scoring slowly and jerkily till the hands of the clock stood at half-past one. as it generally does. and this robbed his bowling of much of its pace. seventy-four for three wickets. The score mounted rapidly. skied the third to Bob Jackson in the deep. who had found the pitch too soft for him and had been expensive. They plodded on. and the pair now in settled down to watch the ball. as it did on this occasion. held it. This policy sometimes leads to a boundary or two. A too liberal interpretation of the meaning of the verb "to hit" led to the departure of two more Riptonians in the course of the next two overs. So Ripton went in to hit. In spite of frequent libations of sawdust. would put in its deadliest work from two o'clock onwards. The sun. Grant bowled what were supposed to be slow leg-breaks. but which did not always break. Then . and was certain to get worse. Seventy-four for three became eighty-six for five. Another hour of play remained before lunch. to make Ripton feel that the advantage was with them. but after that hour singles would be as valuable as threes and boundaries an almost unheard-of luxury. which was now shining brightly. found himself badly handicapped by the state of the ground.

His record score. That period which is always so dangerous. The last man had just gone to the wickets. the ten minutes before lunch. He mowed Burgess's first ball to the square-leg boundary. It resembles in its effect the dragging-out of a book or play after the _dénouement_ has been reached. and Wrykyn had plenty of opportunity of seeing that that was his normal expression when at the wickets. found his leg-stump knocked back. as they walked . and a four bye sent up a hundred and sixty. Every run was invaluable now. did what Burgess had failed to do. when Ellerby. He bowled a straight.Ellerby. who had gone on again instead of Grant. What made it especially irritating now was the knowledge that a straight yorker would solve the whole thing. with the score at a hundred and thirty-one. he explained to Mike. and de Freece proceeded to treat Ellerby's bowling with equal familiarity. for the last ten minutes. came off with distressing frequency. There is often a certain looseness about the attack after lunch. The scoring-board showed an increase of twenty as the result of three overs. He seemed to be a batsman with only one hit. and de Freece. He was apparently a young gentleman wholly free from the curse of nervousness. He had made twenty-eight. missed his second. At the fall of the ninth wicket the fieldsmen nearly always look on their outing as finished. and the Ripton contingent made the pavilion re-echo as a fluky shot over mid-on's head sent up the hundred and fifty. A hundred and twenty had gone up on the board at the beginning of the over. The other batsman played out the over. Just a ball or two to the last man. A four and a three to de Freece. they resent it. But when Burgess bowled a yorker. which suggested the golf links rather than the cricket field. And when he bowled a straight ball. So far it was anybody's game. when the wicket is bad. proved fatal to two more of the enemy. He wore a cheerful smile as he took guard before receiving the first ball after lunch. it was not a yorker. and snicked the third for three over long-slip's head. who had been missing the stumps by fractions of an inch. when a quarter to two arrived. and his one hit. swiping at it with a bright smile. a semicircular stroke. the slow bowler. If the last man insists on keeping them out in the field. and the bowler of googlies took advantage of it now. but he had also a very accurate eye. There are few things more exasperating to the fielding side than a last-wicket stand. and with it the luncheon interval. It was beginning to look as if this might go on for ever. and it will be their turn to bat. CHAPTER XXVIII MIKE WINS HOME The Ripton last-wicket man was de Freece. it was not straight. beat the less steady of the pair with a ball that pitched on the middle stump and shot into the base of the off. medium-paced yorker.

Morris sat down and began to take off his pads. do you think?" A batsman who has been given l. stick a bat in the way. He breaks like sin all over the shop. Wrykyn would have gone in against a score of a hundred and sixty-six with the cheery intention of knocking off the runs for the loss of two or three wickets." "My aunt! Who's in next? Not me?" "No. Berry. Morris was the tenth case. You must look out for that. he said. First ball. He turned his first ball to leg for a single. On a good wicket Wrykyn that season were a two hundred and fifty to three hundred side. emerging from the room with one pad on his leg and the other in his hand.-b. Watch that de Freece man like a hawk. But ordinary standards would not apply here. He thought it was all right." said Burgess helpfully. Berry? He doesn't always break." "Hear that. but it didn't. rather than confidence that their best. when Morris was seen to leave the crease. And in five minutes this had changed to a dull gloom. "L. On a bad wicket--well. It hardly seemed that the innings had begun. The tragedy started with the very first ball." he said. A grim determination to do their best. if he doesn't look out. Morris! Bad luck! Were you out. The Ripton total was a hundred and sixty-six. and he answers it in nine cases out of ten in the negative. when done. and their total--with Wyatt playing and making top score--had worked out at a hundred and seven." said Burgess blankly.-w. "Morris is out. "Thought the thing was going to break. hard condition. Hullo. Berridge. "It's that googly man.-w. for this or any ground." "Good gracious! How?" asked Ellerby.-b. was the spirit which animated the team when they opened their innings. they had met the Incogniti on a bad wicket. It would have been a gentle canter for them. would be anything record-breaking. "That chap'll have the pavilion. . But Berridge survived the ordeal. "What's happened?" shouted a voice from the interior of the first eleven room. * * * * * With the ground in its usual true. and make for the pavilion. For goodness sake. and not your legs. is always asked this question on his return to the pavilion.

No. He had then. but actually lifted a loose ball on to the roof of the scoring-hut. The last of the over had him in two minds. Bob was the next man in. He played inside and was all but bowled: and then." Ellerby echoed the remark. He got up. The voice of the scorer. He scratched awkwardly at three balls without hitting them. and to be on the eve of batting does not make one conversational. Bob's out!. "isn't it! I wonder if the man at the other end is a sort of young Rhodes too!" Fortunately he was not. and I don't believe they've any bowling at all bar de Freece. A silence that could be felt brooded over the pavilion. Mike was silent and thoughtful. By George. The wicket'll get better. But to-day there was danger in the most guileless-looking deliveries. addressing from his little wooden hut the melancholy youth who was working the telegraph-board. With the score Freece. and the next moment the bails had shot up like the _débris_ of a small explosion. changed his stroke suddenly and tried to step back. he was smartly at thirty. jumping out to drive. Berridge relieved the tension a little by playing safely through the over. He sent them down medium-pace. and dropped into the chair next to Mike's. "The only thing is. broke it." said Ellerby. and scoring a couple of twos off it. the cloud began perceptibly to lift. and the wicket-keeper was clapping his gloved hands gently and slowly in the introspective. and took off his blazer. and the second tragedy occurred.. "It's getting trickier every minute. The cloud began to settle again. "One for two.. he isn't. we might have a chance. Ten for two was not good. His visit to the Infirmary had taken the edge off his batting. but this the next ball." he said." . "This is all right. stumped. He was in after Bob. He started to play forward. but it was considerably better than one for two. if we can only stay in.This brought Marsh to the batting end. Last man duck. Mike nodded. Ellerby took off his pads. And when Ellerby not only survived the destructive de Freece's second over. dreamy way wicket-keepers have on these occasions. It was evident from the way he shaped that Marsh was short of practice. Ellerby was missed in the slips off de been playing with slowly increasing confidence till seemed to throw him out of his stride. A no-ball in the same over sent up the first ten. The bowler at the other end looked fairly plain. "You in next?" asked Ellerby. The star of the Ripton attack was evidently de Freece. and on a good wicket would probably have been simple.

" said Mike. you silly ass. "Help!" Burgess began his campaign against de Freece by skying his first ball over cover's head to the boundary." he said. 5. He was not quite sure whether he was glad or sorry at the respite. "That's the way I was had. "I shall go in next myself and swipe. when. A howl of delight went up from the school. Mike. on the board. The next moment the wicket-keeper had the bails off. But now his feelings were different. He noticed small things--mid-off chewing bits of grass. had fumbled the ball. Third man was returning the ball as the batsmen crossed.Bob had jumped out at one of de Freece's slows.." said Ellerby." "All right. If only somebody would knock him off his length. for in the middle of the other bowler's over Bob hit a single. which was repeated. "This is just the sort of time when he might have come off. more by accident than by accurate timing. little patches of brown where the turf had been worn away. and had nearly met the same fate. It had been an ordeal having to wait and look on while wickets fell. "It's a pity old Wyatt isn't here. The wicket-keeper. There was no sense of individuality. I believe we might win yet. however." The same idea apparently occurred to Burgess. as he walked out of the pavilion to join Bob. the captain put on two more fours past extra-cover." said Mike.. He took guard with a clear picture of the positions of the fieldsmen photographed on his brain. and try and knock that man de Freece off. When he had gone out to bat against the M. "Forty-one for four.C. get _back_!" Berridge had called Bob for a short run that was obviously no run. Jackson. the bowler re-tying the scarf round his waist. The bowler's cheerful smile never varied. was not conscious of any particular nervousness. as if it were some one else's." said Ellerby. Berridge was out by a yard. 12. Oh. the batsmen crossed. .. he experienced a quaint sensation of unreality. "Good man. "I'm going to shove you down one." "Bob's broken his egg. 54. and Burgess had his leg-stump uprooted while trying a gigantic pull-stroke. as Ellerby had done.C." said Ellerby. _fortissimo_. on the occasion of his first appearance for the school. He came to where Mike was sitting. He seemed to be watching his body walking to the wickets. The melancholy youth put up the figures. "That man's keeping such a jolly good length that you don't know whether to stay in your ground or go out at them. but now that the time of inaction was at an end he felt curiously composed. Whether Burgess would have knocked de Freece off his length or not was a question that was destined to remain unsolved. Every little helps. He was cool.

It was a standing mystery with the sporting Press how Joe Jackson managed to collect fifties and sixties on wickets that completely upset men who were. to do with actual health. He felt that he knew where he was now. Mike would not have said that he felt more than ordinarily well that day. finer players. It pitched slightly to leg. The Ripton bowler was as conscientious in the matter of appeals as a good bowler should be. It flew along the ground through the gap between cover and extra-cover. and stepped back. A difficult wicket always brought out his latent powers as a bat. and hit it before it had time to break.-b. The ball hit his right pad. . Mike prepared himself for the next ball with a glow of confidence. He had seen that the ball had pitched off the leg-stump. and he had smothered them. or very little. Joe would be in his element. by leading them to expect a faster ball than he actually sent down. He had played on wickets of this pace at home against Saunders's bowling. Indeed. or he may be in perfect training and play inside straight half-volleys. The increased speed of the ball after it had touched the ground beat him. Till then he had not thought the wicket was so fast. But something seemed to whisper to him. "'S that?" shouted mid-on. considering his pace. The umpire shook his head. which in a batsman exhibits itself mainly in an increased power of seeing the ball. and not short enough to take liberties with. Mike jumped out. The two balls he had played at the other end had told him nothing. and Saunders had shown him the right way to cope with them. that he was at the top of his batting form. The Ripton slow bowler took a long run. is one of the most inexplicable things connected with cricket. On days when the Olympians of the cricket world were bringing their averages down with ducks and singles. watching the ball and pushing it through the slips as if there were no such thing as a tricky wicket. The smiting he had received from Burgess in the previous over had not had the effect of knocking de Freece off his length. A queer little jump in the middle of the run increased the difficulty of watching him. Bob played ball number six back to the bowler. Mid-on tried to look as if he had not spoken. and whipped in quickly. Mid-on has a habit of appealing for l. he was rather painfully conscious of having bolted his food at lunch. De Freece said nothing. in school matches. A single off the fifth ball of the over opened his score and brought him to the opposite end. It has nothing. He knew what to do now. and Mike took guard preparatory to facing de Freece. a comfortable three. And Mike took after Joe.-w. The ball was too short to reach with comfort.Fitness. as he settled himself to face the bowler. A man may come out of a sick-room with just that extra quickness in sighting the ball that makes all the difference. The next ball was of the same length. but this time off the off-stump. Bob played out the over with elaborate care. apparently. They had been well pitched up. In the early part of an innings he often trapped the batsmen in this way. Mike had faced half-left.

The last ball of the over. Between them the three could not be relied on for a dozen in a decent match. it was Ripton who were really in the better position. to a hundred." said Berridge. and made twenty-one. Apparently. But Mike did not get out. He banged it behind point to the terrace-bank. nor Devenish had any pretensions to be considered batsmen. or he's certain to get out. Young Jackson looks as if he was in for a century. when the wicket had put on exactly fifty." "You ass. The wicket-keeper looked like a man who feels that his hour has come. he lifted over the other boundary. And. and de Freece's pet googly. nor Grant. (Two years later. Mike watched him go with much the same feelings as those of a man who turns away from the platform after seeing a friend off on a long railway journey. "Don't say that. "By George! I believe these chaps are going to knock off the runs. There was nervousness written all over him. led to his snicking an easy catch into short-slip's hands. thence to ninety." said Ellerby. A hundred and twenty-seven for seven against a total of a hundred and sixty-six gives the impression that the batting side has the advantage. and hit a fast change bowler who had been put on at the other end for a couple of fluky fours. which comes to all batsmen on occasion. and raised the score to a hundred and twenty-six. Ashe was the school wicket-keeper. At a hundred and four. in the pavilion." Berridge was one of those who are skilled in cricket superstitions. . and so. Grant and Devenish were bowlers. He took seven off de Freece's next over by means of two cuts and a drive. His departure upset the scheme of things. A bye brought Henfrey to the batting end again. Then Mike got the bowling for three consecutive overs. however. Henfrey. when he captained the Wrykyn teams. Mike could see him licking his lips.Off the second ball of the other man's over Mike scored his first boundary. mainly by singles. He might possibly get out off his next ball.) But this season his batting had been spasmodic. the score mounted to eighty. and the wicket was getting easier. for neither Ashe. He had had narrow escapes from de Freece. It was a long-hop on the off. as the umpire signalled another no-ball. that this was his day. but he was full of that conviction. a half-volley to leg. For himself he had no fear now. Mike watched Ashe shape with a sinking heart. He had stuck like a limpet for an hour and a quarter. Wrykyn had three more wickets to fall. In the present case. he made a lot of runs. He had an excellent style. Practically they had only one. Bob fell to a combination of de Freece and extra-cover. He had made twenty-six. He survived an over from de Freece. the next man in. "Sixty up. was a promising rather than an effective bat. with Bob still exhibiting a stolid and rock-like defence. which had not been much in evidence hitherto. To-day he never looked like settling down. but he was uncertain. He could feel the sting going out of the bowling every over. but he felt set enough to stay at the wickets till nightfall.

The telegraph-board showed a hundred and fifty. and his bat was across the crease before the bails were off. The umpire called "Over!" and there was Grant at the batting end. The next over was doubly sensational. As it was. but this happened now. and he would have been run out.. Mike took them." he whispered. and for the first five balls he could not find his length. "Come on. The original medium-paced bowler had gone on again in place of the fast man.He was not kept long in suspense. "Over. and it was possible to take liberties. The wicket was almost true again now. did not consider him competent to bat in this crisis? Would not this get about and be accounted to him for side? He had made forty. But he did not score." said Mike. with de Freece smiling pleasantly as he walked back to begin his run with the comfortable reflection that at last he had got somebody except Mike to bowl at. and set his teeth. But how was he to do this? It suddenly occurred to him that it was a delicate position that he was in. He came up to Mike and spoke with an earnestness born of nerves. announced that he had reached his fifty. Faster than the rest and of a perfect length. The last ball of the over he mishit. "collar the bowling all you know. But each time luck was with him. and a school prefect to boot. . A distant clapping from the pavilion.. taken up a moment later all round the ground. Another fraction of a second. His whole existence seemed to concentrate itself on those forty runs. Forty to win! A large order. Mike felt that the school's one chance now lay in his keeping the bowling. or we're done." "All right. [Illustration: MIKE AND THE BALL ARRIVED ALMOST SIMULTANEOUSLY] The last balls of the next two overs provided repetitions of this performance. but even so. and echoed by the Ripton fieldsmen. was well-meaning but erratic. it all but got through Mike's defence. he stopped it.. Jackson. who was the last of several changes that had been tried at the other end. But it was going to be done." said the umpire. "For goodness sake. The fast bowler. It was not often that he was troubled by an inconvenient modesty. Grant was a fellow he hardly knew. But the sixth was of a different kind. Could he go up to him and explain that he." shouted Grant. De Freece's first ball made a hideous wreck of his wicket. During those five balls Mike raised the score to a hundred and sixty. Mike and the ball arrived at the opposite wicket almost simultaneously. It rolled in the direction of third man. I shall get outed first ball. Fortunately Grant solved the problem on his own account.

Devenish's face was a delicate grey. It was young Jackson. Point and the slips crowded round. He bowled rippingly. though once nearly caught by point a yard from the wicket. Brother of the other one." continued he. Mid-off and mid-on moved half-way down the pitch. and rolled back down the pitch. The fifth curled round his bat." said Maclaine." Politeness to a beaten foe caused Burgess to change his usual "not bad. * * * * * Devenish was caught and bowled in de Freece's next over. by the way?" "Eighty-three. The only person unmoved seemed to be de Freece.That over was an experience Mike never forgot. rough luck on de Freece. Grant looked embarrassed." "You've got a rum idea of what's funny. Devenish came in to take the last ball of the over. For four balls he baffled the attack. meeting Burgess in the pavilion. CHAPTER XXIX WYATT AGAIN . His smile was even more amiable than usual as he began his run. The school broke into one great howl of joy. and touched the off-stump. There were still seven runs between them and victory. but determined. A bail fell silently to the ground. but the Wrykyn total was one hundred and seventy-two. A great stillness was over all the ground. Mike's knees trembled. * * * * * "Good game. Mike had got the bowling. I say." "That family! How many more of them are you going to have here?" "He's the last. Grant pursued the Fabian policy of keeping his bat almost immovable and trusting to luck. and the bowling was not de Freece's. "that young Jackson was only playing as a sub. It seemed almost an anti-climax when a four to leg and two two's through the slips settled the thing." said Maclaine." "The funny part of it is. The ball hit the very centre of Devenish's bat. It was an awe-inspiring moment. The next moment the crisis was past. "Who was the man who made all the runs? How many. but nobody appeared to recognise this fact as important.

"Bush-ray." said Marjory. "Who was the duel with?" "How many bushrangers were there?" asked Phyllis." said Phyllis. "Sorry I'm late. interested. conversationally. "He gives no details. referred to in a previous chapter." "Has he been fighting a duel?" asked Marjory. bush-ray. Perhaps that letter on Mike's plate supplies them. The hour being nine-fifteen. who kept a fatherly eye on the Buenos Ayres sheep." she shouted. "Shall I go and hurry him up?" The missing member of the family entered as she spoke. Mr. At the moment of writing Wyatt is apparently incapacitated owing to a bullet in the shoulder. Jackson. after both combatants had been cautioned by the referee.It was a morning in the middle of September. but expects to be fit again shortly. Mike. and the official time for breakfast nine o'clock. Mike's place was still empty. The Jacksons were breakfasting. I don't wonder he found a public school too restricted a sphere for his energies." . had settled down to serious work. I see it comes from Buenos Ayres. through the bread-and-milk. "Bushrangers. The rest. The usual catch-as-catch-can contest between Marjory and Phyllis for the jam (referee and time-keeper. "Is there?" said Mike." explained Gladys Maud." said Mr. "What does he say?" inquired Marjory." began Gladys Maud." He opened the letter and began to read." added Phyllis." "I wish Mike would come and open it." said Ella. including Gladys Maud. "I've had a letter from MacPherson. but was headed off. "Buck up. whose finely chiselled features were gradually disappearing behind a mask of bread-and-milk. "Bush-ray. That young man seems to make things fairly lively wherever he is. "Good old Wyatt! He's shot a man." "With a bushranger. "There aren't any bushrangers in Buenos Ayres. He's been wounded in a duel. in a victory for Marjory. bush-ray. "There's a letter from Wyatt. who had duly secured the stakes. "He seems very satisfied with Mike's friend Wyatt. "How do you know?" said Phyllis clinchingly. Mike read on. Mrs. MacPherson was the vigorous and persevering gentleman. Jackson was reading letters. Jackson) had resulted.

This is what he says. "What a terrible experience for the poor boy!" said Mrs. "What a dreadful thing!" said Mrs. when I happened to catch sight of Chester's pistol. and I've come out of it with a bullet in the shoulder. and so it was." said Phyllis. pulled out our revolvers. Only potted him in the leg.. "No. and it was any money on the Gaucho. It must be almost as decent as Wrykyn out there. and I were dipping sheep close by. and go through that way. We nipped on to a couple of horses. It happened like this. The fact is we've been having a bust-up here." said Mike. I picked it up. A chap called Chester. An ass of a Gaucho had gone into the town and got jolly tight. 'I'm dictating this to a sportsman of the name of Danvers. he wanted to ride through our place. and it is supposed to be a deadly sin to cut these. and dropped poor old Chester. "I'm glad he's having such a ripping time.. which has crocked me for the time being. The old woman who keeps the lodge wouldn't have it at any price. I thought he was killed at first.. "I told you it was a duel. and tooled after him. but got him with the second in the ankle at about two yards. and coming back. and that's when the trouble began. Jackson. instead of shifting off. Missed the first shot. a good chap who can't help being ugly.'" "By Jove!" said Mike. so I shall have to stop. "Much better than being in a beastly bank. That's the painful story. the lodge-keeper's son dashed off in search of help. summing up. What he was really doing was getting a steady aim at us with his revolver. proceeded to cut the fence. and missed him clean every time. I got going then. Here you are.. The johnny had dismounted when we arrived. Well. Jackson. JACKSON MAKES UP HIS MIND . Hurt like sin afterwards. it was practically a bushranger. an Old Wykehamist. Chester was unconscious. "Anyhow. After a bit we overtook him. I thought he was simply tightening his horse's girths. so he came to us and told us what had happened. I emptied all the six chambers of my revolver. All the farms out here have their boundaries marked by wire fences. Danvers says he's getting writer's cramp.. which had fallen just by where I came down. The man had got his knife out now--why he didn't shoot again I don't know--and toddled over in our direction to finish us off. what's under that dish?" CHAPTER XXX MR. He fired as we came up. In the meantime he got me in the right shoulder. and his day's work was done."Killed him?" asked Marjory excitedly. The next item of the programme was a forward move in force on the part of the enemy." said Marjory. First page is mostly about the Ripton match and so on. Gave him the absolute miss-in-baulk. so excuse bad writing. but it turned out it was only his leg. I say. and loosed off.. So this rotter. though it was only a sort of dull shock at the moment.

She was fond of her other brothers." "Have you? Thanks awfully. as she always did. taking his correspondence with him. that looks rather rotten! I wonder if it was awfully bad." "He didn't mean it really. but Mike was her favourite." . Mrs. "I'm a bit late. "here you are--I've been keeping everything hot for you. "What did it say?" "I didn't see--I only caught sight of the Wrykyn crest on the envelope. "they ought to be jolly glad to have you at Wrykyn just for cricket. though for the others. Mr. But he was late. She had adopted him at an early age. "Hullo. looked on in a detached sort of way. Father didn't say anything. Mike always was late for breakfast in the holidays. When he came down on this particular morning. Phyllis and Ella finished their dispute and went out. while Marjory." she said. Mike. who had played in all five Test Matches in the previous summer. Blake used to write when you were in his form." "No. "Your report came this morning. especially when they made centuries in first-class cricket." said Mike philosophically. If Mike had been in time for breakfast that morning he might have gathered from the expression on his father's face." Mike seemed concerned. instead of writing beastly reports that make father angry and don't do any good to anybody. and when Mike appeared the thing had resolved itself into a mere vulgar brawl between Phyllis and Ella for the jam. He looked up interested. Jackson had disappeared. the meal was nearly over. and did the thing thoroughly." "Last summer he said he'd take me away if I got another one. that's a comfort. "Think there's any more tea in that pot?" "I call it a shame. fetching and carrying for Mike. even for Joe. she would do it only as a favour. as if these juvenile gambols distressed her. that the document in question was not exactly a paean of praise from beginning to end. jumping up as he entered. Marjory sat on the table and watched Mike eat." said Marjory. as Mr." Marjory was bustling about. It's the first I've had from Appleby. I say--" his eye wandered in mild surprise round the table. Mike. The kidneys failed to retain Mike's undivided attention. Jackson opened the envelope containing his school report and read the contents." she said.Two years have elapsed and Mike is home again for the Easter holidays. Jackson had gone into the kitchen. who had put her hair up a fortnight before. "I say. She would field out in the deep as a natural thing when Mike was batting at the net in the paddock." "It can't be any worse than the horrid ones Mr. as usual. I _know_ he didn't! He couldn't! You're the best bat Wrykyn's ever had.

but Mike had been in the Wrykyn team for three seasons now. was not returning next term. Jackson was an understanding sort of man. He liked the prospect. you got your first the very first term you were there--even Joe didn't do anything nearly so good as that. it's a beastly responsibility. while Marjory and the dogs retired as usual to the far hedge to retrieve. From time to time." "What for?" "I don't know.C. who looked on Mike as his own special invention.C. "I hope the dickens it's nothing to do with that bally report. Why. Let's go and see. Mike's dealings with his father were as a rule of a most pleasant nature. "If you don't be worried by being too anxious now that you're captain. Master Mike. He had always had the style. She was kept busy. and there had been a time when he had worried Mike considerably. father wants you. but it certainly carried with it a rather awe-inspiring responsibility. on the arrival of Mr. By the way. however. Saunders says you're simply bound to play for England in another year or two. It is no light thing to captain a public school at cricket. throwing in the information by way of a make-weight." Henfrey. "You _are_. and now he had the strength as well. Mr." "I wish I wasn't. appalled by the fear of losing his form. At night sometimes he would lie awake. and Mike was to reign in his stead. He had filled out in three years. minor match type. Everybody says you are. Saunders. As he was walking towards the house. He seems--" added Phyllis. "Oh. Phyllis met him. Mike put on his pads and went to the wickets. I've been hunting for you. Blake's sarcastic _résumé_ of Mike's short-comings at the end of the . Saunders was a good sound bowler of the M. Saunders's bowling on a true wicket seemed simple to him. It was early in the Easter holidays. was delighted." he said." Saunders was setting up the net when they arrived. "in a beastly wax."What ho!" interpolated Mike. He bowled me a half-volley on the off the first ball I had in a school match." "Where?" "He's in the study. breezes were apt to ruffle the placid sea of good-fellowship. I wonder if he's out at the net now. but already he was beginning to find his form." Mike's jaw fell slightly. Mike. "you'll make a century every match next term. the Wrykyn cricket captain of the previous season. who treated his sons as companions. indeed." "Saunders is a jolly good chap. Mike's end-of-term report was an unfailing wind-raiser. and each season he had advanced tremendously in his batting." was his muttered exclamation. or making a hash of things by choosing the wrong men to play for the school and leaving the right men out.

father?" said Mike. much as a dog about to be washed might evince in his tub. "It was just a bit short and off the leg stump." "Here are Mr. It was on this occasion that Mr. . Appleby's remarks: 'The boy has genuine ability. Only in moments of emotion was Mr." "'Latin poor.'" quoted Mr. and Mr.'" Mike moaned a moan of righteous indignation. it is without exception the worst report you have ever had. scented a row in the offing." "Oh. Mike. "'His conduct. "I want to speak to you. Jackson in measured tones. Jackson was a man of his word." replied Mr. is that my report. therefore. Jackson in the habit of booting the basket. kicking the waste-paper basket. "It is. which he declines to use in the smallest degree. "'has been unsatisfactory in the extreme. what is more. he paused. which Mike broke by remarking that he had carted a half-volley from Saunders over the on-side hedge that morning.previous term. conduct disgraceful----'" "Everybody rags in French. "'French bad. Jackson had solemnly declared his intention of removing Mike from Wrykyn unless the critics became more flattering. skilled in omens." "Oh. last term--all speeches and doubtful readings. Jackson." said Mr.'" "It wasn't anything really. "Come in. Greek. "your report." said his father. I say!" groaned the record-breaker." "'Mathematics bad. very poor. with a sort of sickly interest. so I stepped out--may I bag the paper-knife for a jiffy? I'll just show----" "Never mind about cricket now.'" "We were doing Thucydides. Inattentive and idle." Mike. and cruxes and things--beastly hard! Everybody says so. It was with a certain amount of apprehension. not once. but on several occasions. that Jackson entered the study. there had been something not unlike a typhoon. I only happened----" Remembering suddenly that what he had happened to do was to drop a cannon-ball (the school weight) on the form-room floor. There followed an awkward silence. Jackson. both in and out of school.'" "Nobody does much work in Math. "I want you to listen to this report. Book Two.

" Mike's heart thumped. He did not approve of it. and Mr. Sedleigh! Mike sat up with a jerk. Appleby was a master with very definite ideas as to what constituted a public-school master's duties. The tragedy had happened. Mike?" said Mr. "You remember what I said to you about your report at Christmas. "and I don't suppose it could play Wrykyn at cricket.' There is more to the same effect." was his next remark. and to an unbiased eye Mike in a form-room was about as near the extreme edge as a boy could be. and an icy wind blew over the face of the earth. Jackson. He knew Sedleigh by name--one of those schools with about a hundred fellows which you never hear of except when they send up their gymnasium pair to Aldershot. his father. Jackson was sorry for Mike. and some of Mike's shots on the off gave him thrills of pure aesthetic joy. but it has one merit--boys work there. As a man he was distinctly pro-Mike. He understood him. He made no attempt to appeal against the sentence." he said blankly. Mr. a silent. birds were twittering. there was a sinking feeling in his interior. pure and simple." Somewhere in the world the sun was shining. when he made up his mind. and for that reason he said very little now. Mr. Jackson could read Mike's mind like a book. Appleby said as much in a clear firm hand. Mike said nothing. but to Mike at that moment the sky was black. but he knew that in Mike's place and at Mike's age he would have felt the same. but still blithely). Young Barlitt won a Balliol scholarship from Sedleigh last year. "It is not a large school. "I shall abide by what I said. He understood cricket. Mike's point of view was plain to him." Mr. or their Eight to Bisley. and there was an end of it. having all the unbending tenacity of the normally easy-going man. "You will not go back to Wrykyn next term. "I am sending you to Sedleigh. spectacled youth who did not enter . He knew it would be useless." Barlitt was the vicar's son."'An abnormal proficiency at games has apparently destroyed all desire in him to realise the more serious issues of life. but as a master he always made it his habit to regard the manners and customs of the boys in his form with an unbiased eye. He spoke drily to hide his sympathy. Mike's outlook on life was that of a cricketer. somewhere in the world lambkins frisked and peasants sang blithely at their toil (flat." he said. What had Sedleigh ever done? What were they ever likely to do? Whom did they play? What Old Sedleighan had ever done anything at cricket? Perhaps they didn't even _play_ cricket! "But it's an awful hole. perhaps. folding the lethal document and replacing it in its envelope.

but not much conversation had ensued. Mike said nothing. "Mr. eh?" Mike was feeling thoroughly jaundiced. George!" "I'll walk. and Mike." said the porter. And. sorrier for himself than ever. thanks. Mike nodded. They had met occasionally at tennis-parties. but his topics of conversation were not Mike's. sir. which was a good deal better than saying what he would have liked to have said. he had set himself deliberately to look on the dark side. He walked off up the road. He hated the station. "goes up in the 'bus mostly. or one more obviously incompetent than the man who had attached himself with a firm grasp to the handle of the bag as he strode off in the direction of the luggage-van. and said. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812. as if he hoped by sheer energy to deceive the traveller into thinking that Sedleigh station was staffed by a great army of porters. sir. Also the boots he wore. The future seemed wholly gloomy. sir. sir. "For the school. You can't miss it. Hi. got up. and the man who took his ticket. "So you're back from Moscow. I'll send up your luggage by the 'bus. "Young gents at the school. so far from attempting to make the best of things." said Mike." added Mr. pulled up again. his appearance. sir. seeing the name of the station. A sombre nod. It's straight on up this road to the school. bustling up." said Mike frigidly. Which 'ouse was it you was going to?" "Outwood's." "Worse luck. and the colour of his hair. opened the door. It was such . perceiving from Mike's _distrait_ air that the boy was a stranger to the place. sir?" inquired the solitary porter. CHAPTER XXXI SEDLEIGH The train. He disliked his voice.very largely into Mike's world. Barlitt's mind was massive." "Here you are. Then he got out himself and looked about him. that he had never seen a more repulsive porter. sir. Jackson. "It's a goodish step. Barlitt speaks very highly of Sedleigh. He thought. for instance. which had been stopping everywhere for the last half-hour. It's waiting here." "Right. and hurled a Gladstone bag out on to the platform in an emphatic and vindictive manner. sir." "Thank you.

if he survived a few overs. going in first. There were three houses in a row. Mike went to the front door. Mike's heart bled for Wrykyn. and there is nobody who has not a theory of his own about cricket-coaching at school. too. In appearance he reminded Mike of Smee in "Peter Pan. This must be Sedleigh. and the house-master appeared. and the three captains under whom he had played during his career as a Wrykynian. Outwood's. who would be captain in his place. would be weak this year. The football fifteen had been hopeless. and heading the averages easily at the end of the season. at that. Now it might never be used. About now. and Henfrey had always been sportsmen to him. For the last two seasons he had been the star man. but this formal reporting of himself at Sedleigh suited his mood. And it had been such a wretched athletic year for the school. He inquired for Mr. Outwood. Enderby. on top of all this. The only thing he could find in its favour was the fact that it was set in a very pretty country. He had handed it on in a letter to Strachan." He had the same eyebrows and pince-nez and the same motherly look. Strachan was a good. Sheen's victory in the light-weights at Aldershot had been their one success. might make a century in an hour. At Wrykyn he had always charged in at the beginning of term at the boys' entrance. He had never been in command. he would be on the point of arriving at Wrykyn. For three miles Mike made his way through woods and past fields.absolutely rotten luck. There was no doubt that Mike's sudden withdrawal meant that Wrykyn would have a bad time that season. There is nobody who could not edit a paper in the ideal way. Wrykyn. Outwood's was the middle one of these. separated from the school buildings by a cricket-field. There was something pleasant and homely about Mr. but almost as good. instead of being on his way to a place where they probably ran a diabolo team instead of a cricket eleven. He had meant to do such a lot for Wrykyn cricket this term. Burgess. but probably Strachan would have some scheme of his own. It was soon after this that he caught sight. Of a different type from the Wrykyn country. and played hunt-the-slipper in winter. Outwood. and. He had had an entirely new system of coaching in his mind. from the top of a hill. free bat on his day. Presently the door opened. the return by over sixty points. and a baker's boy directed him to Mr. and had lost both the Ripton matches. and was shown into a room lined with books. Which was the bitter part of it. And as captain of cricket. and he found himself loathing Sedleigh and all its works with a great loathing. now that he was no longer there. sir. Once he crossed a river. Ten minutes' walk brought him to the school gates. And now. the captain of cricket was removed during the Easter holidays. But it was not the same thing. and knocked. but he was not to be depended upon." . "Jackson?" he said mildly. "Yes. of a group of buildings that wore an unmistakably school-like look.

It was a little hard. My name. The northern altar is in a state of really wonderful preservation. near Brindleford? It is a part of the country which I have always wished to visit. and it has always been my wish to see the Cluniac Priory of St. Bishop Geoffrey. Quite so. It looks to me as if they meant to use these chairs as mustard-and-cress beds. having flicked an invisible speck of dust from the left sleeve of his coat. "If you don't mind dirtying your bags. who would not have recognised a Cluniac Priory if you had handed him one on a tray. "Hullo. 1133-40----" "Shall I go across to the boys' part." said the immaculate one. I think you might like a cup of tea. I don't see any prospect of ever sitting down in this place." he said. with a solemn face and immaculate clothes. Jackson. finding his bearings. Personally. in Shropshire. Ambrose. Oh. he spoke. then. that's to say. You should make a point of visiting the remains of the Cluniac Priory in the summer holidays. But this room was occupied. with chamfered plinth. Evidently he had come by an earlier train than was usual. I am preparing a book on Ruined Abbeys and Priories of England. standing quite free from the apse wall. Jackson. produced an eyeglass attached to a cord. In many respects it is unique. said he had not. Everywhere else he had found nothing but emptiness. He strayed about." Mike wandered across to the other side of the house. He spoke in a tired voice. "Hullo. "is Smith. It will well repay a visit. And perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey? No? Quite so. "Take a seat. with a house-master who offered one cups of tea after one's journey and talked about chamfered plinths and apses. A very long. Perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey. thin youth. Jackson. I daresay you have frequently seen the Cluniac Priory of St. was leaning against the mantelpiece. and fixed it in his right eye. As Mike entered. yes. With the help of this aid to vision he inspected Mike in silence for a while. very glad indeed. A deeply interesting relic of the sixteenth century. All alone in a strange school. his gloom visibly deepened. good-bye. Good-bye for the present. Quite so. where they probably played hopscotch." said Mike. I understand. Ambrose at Brindleford?" Mike. "Dear me! You have missed an opportunity which I should have been glad to have. That sort of idea. sir?" "What? Yes. and finally came to a room which he took to be the equivalent of the senior day-room at a Wrykyn house."I am very glad to see you. It consists of a solid block of masonry five feet long and two and a half wide." he added pensively. What's yours?" . You will find the matron in her room. A Nursery Garden in the Home. You come from Crofton. he fumbled in his top left waistcoat pocket.

yes. and see that I did not raise Cain. the Pride of the School." "For Eton. My father's content to worry along in the old-fashioned way. and I will tell you the painful story of my life. are you new?" "Do I look as if I belonged here? I'm the latest import. Psmith thanked him with a certain stately old-world courtesy. "No. But. fixing an owl-like gaze on Mike through the eye-glass. but I've decided to strike out a fresh line. By the way. the name Zbysco. At the end of the first day she struck for one-and six. "Let us start at the beginning. "My infancy. Cp. At an early age. When I was but a babe. The resolve came to me unexpectedly this morning. would you mind sticking a P at the beginning of my name? P-s-m-i-t-h. in which the Z is given a similar miss-in-baulk. I was superannuated last term.CHAPTER XXXII PSMITH "Jackson." said Mike. "Are you the Bully. or the Boy who is Led Astray and takes to Drink in Chapter Sixteen?" "The last. for choice. If you ever have occasion to write to me. as I was buying a simple penn'orth of butterscotch out of the automatic machine at Paddington. I shall found a new dynasty. and got it." "Bad luck. there's just one thing. too." said Psmith solemnly. . then?" "Yes! Why. "it was not to be. I was sent to Eton." "But why Sedleigh. We now pass to my boyhood. But what Eton loses. everybody predicting a bright career for me. so I don't know." "No?" said Mike. Sit down on yonder settee. "but I've only just arrived. the P not being sounded." he resumed. It seems that a certain scug in the next village to ours happened last year to collar a Balliol----" "Not Barlitt!" exclaimed Mike. and I don't care for Smythe. I jotted it down on the back of an envelope." "The boy--what will he become? Are you new here. See?" Mike said he saw. before I start. Sedleigh gains. See? There are too many Smiths. of all places?" "This is the most painful part of my narrative." said Mike. my eldest sister was bribed with a shilling an hour by my nurse to keep an rye on me. In conversation you may address me as Rupert (though I hope you won't). or simply Smith.

dusting his right trouser-leg. whom I met in the grounds--he's the school sergeant or something." "Wrykyn. Do _you_ know Barlitt?" "His pater's vicar of our village. You won't mind my calling you Comrade." . "hangs a tale. who told my father. mark you. quite a solid man--and I hear that Comrade Outwood's an archaeological cove. There's an Archaeological Society in the school. will you? I've just become a Socialist. I suppose you are a blood at the game? Play for the school against Loamshire. My pater took me away because I got such a lot of bad reports. The vicar told the curate. we fall. You ought to be one. How do you like this place from what you've seen of it?" "Rotten. "You have heard my painful story. Outwood. He could almost have embraced Psmith. who told our curate. Have you seen Professor Radium yet? I should say Mr. I've been making inquiries of a stout sportsman in a sort of Salvation Army uniform. but a bit too thick for me." said Psmith. At Eton I used to have to field out at the nets till the soles of my boots wore through. laddie. and is allowed to break bounds and generally steep itself to the eyebrows in reckless devilry. What do you think of him?" "He doesn't seem a bad sort of chap."That was the man. A noble game. but now he felt that life there might at least be tolerable. We are companions in misfortune. and start by collaring all you can and sitting on it. His dislike for his new school was not diminished. It goes out on half-holidays." "I've lived at Lower Benford all my life. Lost lambs. There's a libel action in every sentence. who sent me off here to get a Balliol too." said Psmith. You work for the equal distribution of property. To get off cricket. The very sound of the name Lower Benford was heartening. It was because his son got a Balliol that I was sent here. Sheep that have gone astray. Now tell me yours. and so on." "I am with you." "Do you come from Crofton?" "Yes. "was the dream of my youth and the aspiration of my riper years. The son of the vicar. It's a great scheme. will you?" Mike felt as Robinson Crusoe felt when he met Friday. "Where were you before you came here?" asked Psmith. if you belong to the Archaeological Society you get off cricket. who told our vicar. prowling about. We are practically long-lost brothers. Jawed about apses and things." "And thereby. Here was a fellow human being in this desert place. Goes about the country beating up old ruins and fossils and things. Divided. run by him. Cheer a little. Comrade Jackson. together we may worry through. Bit off his nut. And. We must stick together." "My reports from Eton were simply scurrilous.

hand in hand. On the first floor there was a passage with doors on either side. We must stake out our claims. at any rate. It was a biggish room. was one way of treating the situation." "Then let's beat up a study. You and I." "I vote we get some tea first somewhere. "This'll do us well." "Not now. He had made up his mind on this point in the train." . This is practical Socialism." said Psmith approvingly. looking at himself earnestly in the mirror. I shouldn't wonder if one mightn't borrow a gun from some friendly native." he said. "'Tis well. "Might have been made for us. and straightening his tie. We shall thus improve our minds. and a looking-glass. We will snare the elusive fossil together." said Psmith. and do a bit on our own account." he said. we will go out of bounds." "But the real owner's bound to turn up some time or other. Let's go and look. Psmith opened the first of these. and do a bit of rabbit-shooting here and there."I'm not going to play here. I am all against anything that interferes with my sleep. hung on a nail. and one not without its meed of comfort. will search the countryside for ruined abbeys. and get our names shoved down for the Society." They went upstairs. used to break out at night and shoot at cats with an air-pistol." "You aren't going to collar it!" "That. But rabbits in the daytime is a scheme. called Wyatt." "It would take a lot to make me do that. I shouldn't think he was one of the lynx-eyed contingent." "Good idea. as it were. Achilles knew his business when he sat in his tent. A chap at Wrykyn. Meanwhile we'd better go up to Comrade Outwood. looking out over the school grounds. I suppose they have studies here." said Mike. With tact we ought to be able to slip away from the merry throng of fossil-chasers. We'll nose about for a gun at the earliest opp." said Mike. two empty bookcases. Above all. "Stout fellow. To stand by with folded arms and a sombre frown. "I suppose it belongs to some rotter. There is a certain fascination about making the very worst of a bad job. From what I saw of Comrade Outwood during our brief interview. "is the exact programme. "We will. The determination not to play cricket for Sedleigh as he could not play for Wrykyn gave Mike a sort of pleasure. Psmith approved the resolve. and have a jolly good time as well. There were a couple of deal tables.

not ours. "The weed. He was full of ideas." said Psmith." "We shall jolly well make it out of the window. but he preferred to allow Mike to carry them out. And now. in the matter of decorating a study and preparing tea in it. as he watched Mike light the Etna. "Dash the door!" "Hackenschmidt!" said Mike. We make progress. and begins to talk about himself. but it was Mike who wrenched it from its place. the first thing you know is. though the idea was Psmith's. I have a presentiment that he will be an insignificant-looking little weed. It was he who suggested that the wooden bar which ran across the window was unnecessary. Remind me later to go on with my remarks on school reports." CHAPTER XXXIII STAKING OUT A CLAIM Psmith." said Psmith. evidently without a suspicion that there would be any resistance. We make progress. was rather a critic than an executant." said Psmith sympathetically. What are you going to do about it?" "Don't let us worry about it. If you leave a study door unlocked in these strenuous times. Hullo. How are you getting on with the evening meal?" "Just ready. I wonder. and a voice outside said. could you. spooning up tea from a paper bag with a postcard. and haul it off the parent tin-tack? Thanks. You can't expect two master-minds like us to pig it in that room downstairs. There are moments when one wants to be alone. "if a sort of young Hackenschmidt turns up and claims the study. It's got an Etna and various things in it. Many a bright young lad has been soured by them. come and help me fetch up my box from downstairs. That putrid calendar must come down. "are the very dickens. "is what we chiefly need in this age of publicity."His misfortune. I think with a little care we ought to be able to make this room quite decently comfortable." . It is imperative that we have a place to retire to after a fatiguing day. Similarly. if you want to be really useful. somebody comes right in. What would you give to be at Eton now? I'd give something to be at Wrykyn. I had several bright things to say on the subject. it was Mike who abstracted the key from the door of the next study. "Privacy." said Mike. What's this." A heavy body had plunged against the door." "These school reports. Do you think you could make a long arm. sits down. and turn the key? We had better give this merchant audience. though. A rattling at the handle followed. "You couldn't make a long arm.

But no. all might have been well. "Well. wearing a bowler hat and carrying a bag. Come in and join us. and flung it open. I am Psmith. and harangued Spiller in a philosophical vein. and moved forward with slow stateliness to do the honours. freckled boy. Spiller's sad case had moved him greatly. 'Edwin. and said." Psmith went to the table. and this is my study." said he." Mike's outlook on life was of the solid. We must distinguish between the unusual and the impossible.Mike unlocked the door. deeply affected by his recital. "It's beastly cheek. Are you new chaps?" "The very latest thing. Homely in appearance. Let me introduce you to Comrade Jackson. He went straight to the root of the matter. a people that know not Spiller. "are you doing here?" [Illustration: "WHAT THE DICKENS ARE YOU DOING HERE?"] "We were having a little tea. Edwin!' And so." Psmith leaned against the mantelpiece. 'Edwin. A stout fellow." said Psmith. "you stayed on till the later train. Comrade Spiller. "What are you going to do about it?" he asked. Framed in the entrance was a smallish. practical order. put up his eyeglass. we Psmiths. perhaps. on arrival. Spiller evaded the question. It is unusual for people to go about the place . 'Don't go." inquired the newcomer. Your father held your hand and said huskily." said Psmith. If you had torn yourself from the bosom of the Spiller family by an earlier train. "You can't go about the place bagging studies. "It's beastly cheek. "the saddest are these: 'It might have been. "In this life. and." said Psmith. On his face was an expression of mingled wrath and astonishment. and cheered himself with a sip of tea. that's what I call it. "to restore our tissues after our journey. stay!' Your sisters----" "I want to know what----" "Your sisters froze on to your knees like little octopuses (or octopi). we must be prepared for every emergency. Your own name will doubtless come up in the course of general chit-chat over the tea-cups. don't leave us!' Your mother clung to you weeping. Psmith rose courteously from his chair. "What the dickens. "Of all sad words of tongue or pen. and screamed." "But we do. The victim of Fate seemed in no way consoled. you find strange faces in the familiar room." "My name's Spiller." he repeated. it's beastly cheek." said Psmith.' Too late! That is the bitter cry. but one of us. We keep open house.

the Man of Action? How do you intend to set about it? Force is useless. "are you going to take? Spiller. Error! Ah. Mr. the man of Logic. "All I know is. and Simpson's left. Outwood received them with the motherly warmth which was evidently the leading characteristic of his normal manner. By no means a scaly project. you might have thought out dozens of sound schemes for dealing with the matter. that I didn't mind betting you were an insignificant-looking little weed." said Psmith. Psmith particularly debonair. It was Simpson's last term.' 'But suppose you did?' I said. The thing comes on you as a surprise. 'I wouldn't.'" "Can't I! I'll----" "What _are_ you going to do about it?" said Mike. I was saying to Comrade Jackson before you came in. Spiller. of course.bagging studies." "Not an unsound scheme. Spiller pink and determined. let this be a lesson to you. But what of Spiller." Mr. Spiller. He cannot cope with the situation. Comrade Jackson and myself were about to interview him upon another point. and I'm next on the house list. and Jackson. it's my study. so. . One's the foot-brake. If you had only realised the possibility of somebody some day collaring your study. Mike sullen. Only it turned out to be the foot-brake after all." "But what steps. His nature expands before one like some beautiful flower. And you _are_ an insignificant-looking little weed. We may as well all go together. The cry goes round: 'Spiller has been taken unawares." "We'll see what Outwood says about it. I said to him: 'What would happen if you trod on that pedal thing instead of that other pedal thing?' He said. we know." said Psmith. Outwood received this eulogy with rather a startled expression. and now and then pointed out to Spiller objects of interest by the wayside.' So he stamped on the accelerator. you are unprepared. "Ah. He hummed lightly as he walked. so you have rashly ordered your life on the assumption that it is impossible.' Take the present case. The advice I give to every young man starting life is: 'Never confuse the unusual and the impossible. As it is. 'I couldn't. 'Now we'll let her rip." he said." "Look here. I tell you what it----" "I was in a motor with a man once. laying a hand patronisingly on the study-claimer's shoulder--a proceeding violently resented by Spiller--"is a character one cannot help but respect. "And Smith. I'm going to have it. and skidded into a ditch. and gazed at the object of the tribute in a surprised way." The trio made their way to the Presence. I am glad to see that you have already made friends. and the other's the accelerator. sir.' he said. and we stopped dead. Spiller." "Spiller's.

two miles from the school." . not at all. who presided over the School Fire Brigade. "One moment. I am very pleased. Do you want to join. "I have been unable to induce to join. quite so." "There is no vice in Spiller. Spiller. "that there is an Archaeological Society in the school. "that accounts for it. It was but rarely that he could induce new boys to join. he is one of our oldest members. too!" Mr. Outwood beamed. Spiller. It was a disappointment to him that so few boys seemed to wish to belong to his chosen band." said Psmith. sir." burst out this paragon of all the virtues. though small. Smith. His colleague." "Not at all. games that left him cold. Is there anything----" "Please. tolerantly. were in the main earnest. sir." "And Jackson's." "Jackson. sir. Smith?" "Intensely. Smith." he said at last. if you were not too busy. This enthusiasm is most capital. "His heart is the heart of a little child. "Yes. "I----" "But it was not entirely with regard to Spiller that I wished to speak to you. sir." said Psmith sadly. Smith." "Oh. not knowing that the Fire Brigade owed its support to the fact that it provided its light-hearted members with perfectly unparalleled opportunities for ragging. Outwood's eyes sparkled behind their pince-nez. Downing. We intend to inspect the Roman Camp at Embury Hill." "Ah. We have a small Archaeological Society." "Spiller. Perhaps you would care to become a member?" "Please. sir--" said Spiller. "I like to see boys in my house friendly towards one another. very pleased indeed." Mr. "Yes. sir--" began Spiller. sir--" said Spiller. "I understand. sir. Smith. sir. "I am delighted. "One moment. I--er--in a measure look after it. while his own band. Cricket and football." "Please. Archaeology fascinates me." "Please. Outwood pondered wistfully on this at times. sir. Boys came readily at his call. I will put down your name at once." pursued Psmith earnestly. This is capital." he said."Er--quite so. never had any difficulty in finding support. Most delighted. A grand pursuit." "Undoubtedly. Mr. We shall have the first outing of the term on Saturday. Mr. appeared to be the main interest in their lives." said Psmith.

He would always find a cheery welcome waiting there for him. "One moment. "There is just one other matter. Spiller." "Quite so." He turned to Mr. Fight against it." "Quite so. What is that?" "Would there be any objection to Jackson and myself taking Simpson's old study?" "By all means. Correct it. Smith." "Certainly. Outwood. "This tendency to delay. "Please. Smith. Can't I have it?" "I'm afraid I have already promised it to Smith. sir--" said Spiller. Quite so." CHAPTER XXXIV GUERRILLA WARFARE ." "But. Edwin. I come next after Simpson. We will move our things in." "Capital!" "Please. sir. sir." said Mike. "is very. always be glad to see Spiller in our study. It would give us a place where we could work quietly in the evenings. Spiller. There is no formality between ourselves and Spiller. Spiller." said Psmith. very trying for a man of culture." "Thank you very much. "We should. "aren't I to have it? I'm next on the list. Smith." he said." shouted Spiller. A very good idea. sir." "Thank you very much. sir. I like this spirit of comradeship in my house." "Yes. sir." said Psmith. sir. as they closed the door. Look us up in our study one of these afternoons. if you could spare the time. sir."We shall be there. sir. Then you will be with us on Saturday?" "On Saturday. You should have spoken before. An excellent arrangement. "is your besetting fault. of course." "All this sort of thing. sir----" Psmith eyed the speaker pityingly. sir. Spiller.

the door handle rattled again. we're all right while we stick here. Smith. to conduct an affair of this kind--such foresight! such resource! We must see to this at once." "We'd better nip down to the matron right off. and this time there followed a knocking." "What would you have done if somebody had bagged your study?" "Made it jolly hot for them!" "So will Comrade Spiller. "about when we leave this room. as he resumed his favourite position against the mantelpiece and surveyed the commandeered study with the pride of a householder. I don't like rows. I'm afraid we are quite spoiling his afternoon by these interruptions. "You're a jolly useful chap to have by you in a crisis. This place would have been wasted on Spiller." Psmith eyed Mike with approval. but I'm prepared to take on a reasonable number of bravoes in defence of the home." Mike was finishing his tea. "The difficulty is. Here we are in a stronghold." said Psmith courteously. they can only get at us through the door. Comrade Jackson." Mike intimated that he was with him on the point. if we're in separate rooms we shall be in the cart." he said. We are as sons to him. but we must rout him out once more." "That's just what I was about to point out when you put it with such admirable clearness. though. Spiller's hot Spanish blood is not going to sit tight and do nothing under a blow like this. "We will now. "We ought to have known each other before. but we can't stay all night. he would not have appreciated it properly." As they got up." said Psmith. To all appearances we are in a fairly tight place." he said with approval. if they put us in different rooms we're done--we shall be destroyed singly in the watches of the night. "keener to the reflective mind than sitting under one's own roof-tree." "_And_. It all depends on how big Comrade Spiller's gang will be. I suppose you realise that we are now to a certain extent up against it." "Not the matron--Comrade Outwood is the man. But what of the nightfall? What of the time when we retire to our dormitory?" "Or dormitories. face the future for awhile. I take it that he will collect a gang and make an offensive movement against us directly he can. as you rightly remark. and we can lock that." "And jam a chair against it. "He thinks of everything! You're the man."There are few pleasures. jam a chair against it. ." "What can he do? Outwood's given us the study. I say. I mean." "The loss was mine. there is nothing he can deny us. with your permission.

" "Sturdy common sense. "seems to be the chief virtue of the Sedleigh character." said Mike. only it belongs to three ."This must be an emissary of Comrade Spiller's. A light-haired youth with a cheerful. as one mourning over the frailty of human nature. about four beds in it? How many dormitories are there?" "Five--there's one with three beds in it." "Mine is Psmith--P-s-m-i-t-h--one of the Shropshire Psmiths." The new-comer giggled with renewed vigour." he explained. then?" asked Mike. in his practical way. not more." Mike unlocked the door. because most of the chaps don't see why they should sweat themselves just because Spiller's study has been bagged. "If you move a little to the left. "is cursing you like anything downstairs. "He might get about half a dozen. say. "What's he going to do?" asked Mike. "I just came up to have a look at you. "as to the rest of the description----" "My name's Jellicoe." said Psmith approvingly. with." "This is where Comrade Jellicoe's knowledge of the local geography will come in useful." said Psmith. "Are you the chap with the eyeglass who jaws all the time?" "I _do_ wear an eyeglass." said Psmith. You _are_ chaps! Do you mean to say you simply bagged his study? He's making no end of a row about it." "As I suspected." "How many _will_ there be. "He's going to get the chaps to turn you out." said Psmith. for instance. and stood giggling with his hands in his pockets. "you will catch the light and shade effects on Jackson's face better." sighed Psmith. rather vacant face and a receding chin strolled into the room. "Let us parley with the man." giggled Jellicoe. "About how many horny-handed assistants should you say that he would be likely to bring? Will you." "There's nothing like a common thought for binding people together." said Psmith." "We shall be able to tackle a crowd like that. "The only thing is we must get into the same dormitory." "Spiller's fiery nature is a byword. _I_ think Spiller's an ass. The object on the skyline is Comrade Jackson. Do you happen to know of any snug little room. join the glad throng?" "Me? No fear! I think Spiller's an ass." "Old Spiller.

" "You make friends easily." he said. and some other chaps. but shall be delighted to see him up here. the others waited outside. A very warm friendship--" explained Psmith. "We must apologise for disturbing you. I think." said Psmith." "Go and give Comrade Spiller our compliments and say that we can't come down. "That door. sir----" "Not at all. Psmith looked at him searchingly through his eyeglass." "I believe in the equal distribution of property. as the messenger departed. Smith?" he said. Jellicoe and myself. "are beginning to move." "And now." "Spiller?" "Spiller and Robinson and Stone. crowding . it will save trouble. "we may say that we are in a fairly winning position. Better leave the door open. Things." said Psmith. come in. sir?" "Certainly--certainly! Tell the matron as you go down. Outwood received them even more beamingly than before. what can we do for you?" Spiller advanced into the study." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe." "They want us to speak to them?" "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. sir. We will go to Comrade Outwood and stake out another claim. not at all! I like the boys in my house to come to me when they wish for my advice or help." This time it was a small boy. "Yes. A vote of thanks to Comrade Jellicoe for his valuable assistance." "We were wondering. I like to see it--I like to see it. as they returned to the study." "And we can have the room. Jellicoe and myself sharing the dormitory with the three beds in it. Ah. "Who?" "The senior day-room chaps. "They told me to come up and tell you to come down." he said. "is getting a perfect incubus! It cuts into one's leisure cruelly." Mr.chaps. Smith. "has sprung up between Jackson. if you would have any objection to Jackson. patting the gurgling Jellicoe kindly on the shoulder. Smith. Comrade Spiller. The handle began to revolve again.

and the human battering-ram staggered through into the study. the enemy gave back. The dogs of war are now loose. dusting the knees of his trousers where they had pressed against the wall. with a display of energy of which one would not have believed him capable. Whisperings could be heard in the corridor. and then to stand by for the next attack. we are always glad to see Comrade Robinson. adjusting his tie at the looking-glass. As Mike arrived. "The preliminaries may now be considered over." said Spiller. you chaps. "Robinson. Comrade Spiller. This time." There was a scrambling of feet in the passage outside. turning after re-locking the door. "We must the doorway. Mike. stepping into the room again. Psmith closed the window gently and turned to Jellicoe. swung open. Jellicoe giggled in the background. and then a repetition of the onslaught on the door. if you don't. always. . grip the invader scientifically by an arm and a leg. Mike jumped to help." said Jellicoe. instead of resisting. "are you going to clear out of here or not?" "After Mr. but it was needless. His was a simple and appreciative mind. the drama in the atmosphere appealed to him." "We'll risk it. "Who was our guest?" he asked. I wonder if anybody else is thinking of calling?" Apparently frontal attack had been abandoned. you _are_ a chap!" "Robinson." said Mike." said Psmith approvingly. however. and the handle. and Mike. Psmith dropped him on to the flower-bed below. "A neat piece of work. There was an inward rush on the enemy's part. was it? Well. For a moment the doorway was blocked." cried Spiller suddenly. the first shot has been fired. I say. He grabbed Spiller by the shoulders and ran him back against the advancing crowd. was just in time to see Psmith. Comrade Jackson! Might I trouble you just to turn that key quietly. Outwood's kindly thought in giving us the room? You suggest a black and ungrateful action." "You'll get it hot. but Mike had been watching. the captive was already on the window-sill. "They'll have it down. slammed the door and locked it. "Look here. then the weight and impetus of Mike and Spiller prevailed." A heavy body crashed against the door. the door. "Come on.

nip upstairs as quickly as you can." The passage was empty when they opened the door. His demeanour throughout the meal was that of some whimsical monarch condescending for a freak to revel with his humble subjects. "Tea. . Spiller. It read: "Directly this is over. Everybody turned to look at them as they came in." "This. and have it out?" said Mike. of course. "No. Jellicoe knocked at the door. Personally I don't propose to be chivvied about indefinitely like this. Towards the end of the meal Psmith scribbled a note and passed it to Mike. "We needn't drag Jellicoe into it. and see what happens. leaning against the mantelpiece. It was plain that the study episode had been a topic of conversation." A bell rang in the distance." Mike followed the advice. Spiller's face was crimson. "we shall have to go now. we could fake up some sort of barricade for the door. I think we may take it as tolerably certain that Comrade Spiller and his hired ruffians will try to corner us in the dormitory to-night. "There's no harm in going out. "You'd better come out.Somebody hammered on the door." "Shall we go down to the senior day-room. and if we are going to do the Hunted Fawn business all the time. Mike felt rather conscious of the eyes." said Jellicoe. "Yes?" called Psmith patiently. When they had been in the study a few moments. We are not prepared to carry on a long campaign--the thing must be settled at once. but it can't go on. you'll only get it hotter if you don't." "As a matter of fact--if you don't mind--" began that man of peace. "Lucky you two cut away so quick." said Psmith." said Mike. "They were going to try and get you into the senior day-room and scrag you there. "is exciting." said Mike. In the dining-room the beleaguered garrison were the object of general attention. but Psmith was in his element. Well." "They won't do anything till after tea. they were first out of the room." he said. I shouldn't think." "Leave us. We have got for our sins to be in this place for a whole term. we will play the fixture on our own ground. life in the true sense of the word will become an impossibility. but then we should have all the trouble over again to-morrow and the day after that. My nerves are so delicately attuned that the strain would simply reduce them to hash. and Robinson's coat-sleeve still bore traces of garden mould. we would be alone. Is this meeting with me?" "I think that's sound. the call to food was evidently a thing not to be treated lightly by the enemy. you know. so I propose that we let them come into the dormitory.

Outwood went the round of the dormitories at eleven. would make for Dormitory One in the same passage. "And touching." CHAPTER XXXV UNPLEASANTNESS IN THE SMALL HOURS Jellicoe. The rest of the opposing forces were distributed among other and more distant rooms. . Mr. that Dormitory One would be the rendezvous. must this business be conducted in a subdued and _sotto voce_ manner. Outwood paid his visit at eleven. And now. closing the door." This appears to be a thoroughly nice. He never hears anything. as predicted by Jellicoe." "Who is Barnes?" "Head of the house--a rotter. _ne pas_. retiring at ten. What would my mother say if she could see her Rupert in the midst of these reckless youths!" "All the better. consulted on the probable movements of the enemy." "Comrade Jackson's Berserk blood is up--I can hear it sizzling. and disappeared again." "Then I think. whereas we have our little wooden _châlet_ to retire to in times of stress. where Robinson also had a bed. Shall we be moving?" Mr. "we don't want anybody butting in and stopping the show before it's half started. it was unlikely that it would occur before half-past eleven. It was probable. beaming vaguely into the darkness over a candle. He's in a funk of Stone and Robinson." said Psmith. as there won't be anything doing till bedtime. Is there nobody else who might interfere with our gambols?" "Barnes might. We often rag half the night and nothing happens. he has got to spend the term in the senior day-room." said Jellicoe." said Psmith placidly. that human encyclopaedia. well-conducted establishment. but it's as well to do them thoroughly when one's once in for them. I think I'll collar this table and write home and tell my people that all is well with their Rupert. or may we let ourselves go a bit here and there?" "I shouldn't think old Outwood's likely to hear you--he sleeps miles away on the other side of the house. I quite agree these things are all very disturbing and painful. "we may look forward to a very pleasant evening."Quite right." said Psmith. but otherwise. "only he won't." said Mike. "the matter of noise. he'll simply sit tight. therefore. Comrade Jellicoe must stand out of the game altogether. As to the time when an attack might be expected. "this is not Comrade Jellicoe's scene at all. We shall be glad of his moral support. they rag him. deposed that Spiller.

Wain at Wrykyn on the night when Wyatt had come in through the window and found authority sitting on his bed. too. silence is essential. 'What would Napoleon have done?' I think Napoleon would have sat in a chair by his washhand-stand. Mike found his thoughts wandering back to the vigil he had kept with Mr. and he had begun to doze when he was jerked back to wakefulness by the stealthy turning of the door-handle. "Shall we leave it open for them?" "Not so. Psmith lit a candle and they examined the ground." "If they've got a candle----" "They won't have. "Dashed neat!" he said. don't forget to breathe like an asthmatic sheep when you hear the door opened. If they have. I always ask myself on these occasions. Napoleon would have done that. I'll collar Comrade Jellicoe's jug now and keep it handy. "Practically the sunken road which dished the Cuirassiers at Waterloo. waiting for him. especially if. listening. "These humane preparations being concluded. Waiting in the dark for something to happen is always a trying experience." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. He would then----" "I tell you what. showed that Jellicoe. fling the water at a venture--fire into the brown! Lest we forget. . which is close to the door. then they'll charge forward and all will be well. succeeded by a series of deep breaths. "how about tying a string at the top of the steps?" "Yes. had heard the noise. the faintest rustle from Psmith's direction followed. I seem to see Comrade Spiller coming one of the finest purlers in the world's history. stand by with your water-jug and douse it at once. There were three steps leading down to it. too." said Psmith. the man with the big brain!" The floor of the dormitory was below the level of the door." said Mike. Psmith surveyed the result with approval. as on this occasion. he would have posted you by your washhand-stand. There was a creaking sound. "we will retire to our posts and wait. to give his celebrated imitation of a dormitory breathing heavily in its sleep. A couple of sheets would also not be amiss--we will enmesh the enemy!" "Right ho!" said Mike. If they have no candle. I have evolved the following plan of action. The leg of a wardrobe and the leg of Jellicoe's bed made it possible for the string to be fastened in a satisfactory manner across the lower step. but far otherwise. and a slight giggle. Subject to your approval. directly he heard the door-handle turned. Mike was tired after his journey. and he would have instructed Comrade Jellicoe. If it's shut we shall hear them at it when they come."How about that door?" said Mike. Comrade Jackson. Comrade Jellicoe. Hats off to Comrade Jackson. they may wait at the top of the steps.

It was pitch-dark in the dormitory, but Mike could follow the invaders' movements as clearly as if it had been broad daylight. They had opened the door and were listening. Jellicoe's breathing grew more asthmatic; he was flinging himself into his part with the whole-heartedness of the true artist. The creak was followed by a sound of whispering, then another creak. The enemy had advanced to the top step.... Another creak.... The vanguard had reached the second step.... In another moment---CRASH! And at that point the proceedings may be said to have formally opened. A struggling mass bumped against Mike's shins as he rose from his chair; he emptied his jug on to this mass, and a yell of anguish showed that the contents had got to the right address. Then a hand grabbed his ankle and he went down, a million sparks dancing before his eyes as a fist, flying out at a venture, caught him on the nose. Mike had not been well-disposed towards the invaders before, but now he ran amok, hitting out right and left at random. His right missed, but his left went home hard on some portion of somebody's anatomy. A kick freed his ankle and he staggered to his feet. At the same moment a sudden increase in the general volume of noise spoke eloquently of good work that was being put in by Psmith. Even at that crisis, Mike could not help feeling that if a row of this calibre did not draw Mr. Outwood from his bed, he must be an unusual kind of house-master. He plunged forward again with outstretched arms, and stumbled and fell over one of the on-the-floor section of the opposing force. They seized each other earnestly and rolled across the room till Mike, contriving to secure his adversary's head, bumped it on the floor with such abandon that, with a muffled yell, the other let go, and for the second time he rose. As he did so he was conscious of a curious thudding sound that made itself heard through the other assorted noises of the battle. All this time the fight had gone on in the blackest darkness, but now a light shone on the proceedings. Interested occupants of other dormitories, roused from their slumbers, had come to observe the sport. They were crowding in the doorway with a candle. By the light of this Mike got a swift view of the theatre of war. The enemy appeared to number five. The warrior whose head Mike had bumped on the floor was Robinson, who was sitting up feeling his skull in a gingerly fashion. To Mike's right, almost touching him, was Stone. In the direction of the door, Psmith, wielding in his right hand the cord of a dressing-gown, was engaging the remaining three with a patient smile. They were clad in pyjamas, and appeared to be feeling the dressing-gown cord acutely. The sudden light dazed both sides momentarily. The defence was the first to recover, Mike, with a swing, upsetting Stone, and Psmith, having seized and emptied Jellicoe's jug over Spiller, getting to work again with the cord in a manner that roused the utmost enthusiasm of

the spectators. [Illustration: PSMITH SEIZED AND EMPTIED JELLICOE'S JUG OVER SPILLER] Agility seemed to be the leading feature of Psmith's tactics. He was everywhere--on Mike's bed, on his own, on Jellicoe's (drawing a passionate complaint from that non-combatant, on whose face he inadvertently trod), on the floor--he ranged the room, sowing destruction. The enemy were disheartened; they had started with the idea that this was to be a surprise attack, and it was disconcerting to find the garrison armed at all points. Gradually they edged to the door, and a final rush sent them through. "Hold the door for a second," cried Psmith, and vanished. Mike was alone in the doorway. It was a situation which exactly suited his frame of mind; he stood alone in direct opposition to the community into which Fate had pitchforked him so abruptly. He liked the feeling; for the first time since his father had given him his views upon school reports that morning in the Easter holidays, he felt satisfied with life. He hoped, outnumbered as he was, that the enemy would come on again and not give the thing up in disgust; he wanted more. On an occasion like this there is rarely anything approaching concerted action on the part of the aggressors. When the attack came, it was not a combined attack; Stone, who was nearest to the door, made a sudden dash forward, and Mike hit him under the chin. Stone drew back, and there was another interval for rest and reflection. It was interrupted by the reappearance of Psmith, who strolled back along the passage swinging his dressing-gown cord as if it were some clouded cane. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Comrade Jackson," he said politely. "Duty called me elsewhere. With the kindly aid of a guide who knows the lie of the land, I have been making a short tour of the dormitories. I have poured divers jugfuls of water over Comrade Spiller's bed, Comrade Robinson's bed, Comrade Stone's--Spiller, Spiller, these are harsh words; where you pick them up I can't think--not from me. Well, well, I suppose there must be an end to the pleasantest of functions. Good-night, good-night." The door closed behind Mike and himself. For ten minutes shufflings and whisperings went on in the corridor, but nobody touched the handle. Then there was a sound of retreating footsteps, and silence reigned. On the following morning there was a notice on the house-board. It ran: INDOOR GAMES Dormitory-raiders are informed that in future neither Mr. Psmith nor Mr. Jackson will be at home to visitors.

This nuisance must now cease. R. PSMITH. M. JACKSON.

CHAPTER XXXVI ADAIR On the same morning Mike met Adair for the first time. He was going across to school with Psmith and Jellicoe, when a group of three came out of the gate of the house next door. "That's Adair," said Jellicoe, "in the middle." His voice had assumed a tone almost of awe. "Who's Adair?" asked Mike. "Captain of cricket, and lots of other things." Mike could only see the celebrity's back. He had broad shoulders and wiry, light hair, almost white. He walked well, as if he were used to running. Altogether a fit-looking sort of man. Even Mike's jaundiced eye saw that. As a matter of fact, Adair deserved more than a casual glance. He was that rare type, the natural leader. Many boys and men, if accident, or the passage of time, places them in a position where they are expected to lead, can handle the job without disaster; but that is a very different thing from being a born leader. Adair was of the sort that comes to the top by sheer force of character and determination. He was not naturally clever at work, but he had gone at it with a dogged resolution which had carried him up the school, and landed him high in the Sixth. As a cricketer he was almost entirely self-taught. Nature had given him a good eye, and left the thing at that. Adair's doggedness had triumphed over her failure to do her work thoroughly. At the cost of more trouble than most people give to their life-work he had made himself into a bowler. He read the authorities, and watched first-class players, and thought the thing out on his own account, and he divided the art of bowling into three sections. First, and most important--pitch. Second on the list--break. Third--pace. He set himself to acquire pitch. He acquired it. Bowling at his own pace and without any attempt at break, he could now drop the ball on an envelope seven times out of ten. Break was a more uncertain quantity. Sometimes he could get it at the expense of pitch, sometimes at the expense of pace. Some days he could get all three, and then he was an uncommonly bad man to face on anything but a plumb wicket. Running he had acquired in a similar manner. He had nothing approaching style, but he had twice won the mile and half-mile at the Sports off elegant runners, who knew all about stride and the correct timing of the sprints and all the rest of it.

Briefly, he was a worker. He had heart. A boy of Adair's type is always a force in a school. In a big public school of six or seven hundred, his influence is felt less; but in a small school like Sedleigh he is like a tidal wave, sweeping all before him. There were two hundred boys at Sedleigh, and there was not one of them in all probability who had not, directly or indirectly, been influenced by Adair. As a small boy his sphere was not large, but the effects of his work began to be apparent even then. It is human nature to want to get something which somebody else obviously values very much; and when it was observed by members of his form that Adair was going to great trouble and inconvenience to secure a place in the form eleven or fifteen, they naturally began to think, too, that it was worth being in those teams. The consequence was that his form always played hard. This made other forms play hard. And the net result was that, when Adair succeeded to the captaincy of football and cricket in the same year, Sedleigh, as Mr. Downing, Adair's house-master and the nearest approach to a cricket-master that Sedleigh possessed, had a fondness for saying, was a keen school. As a whole, it both worked and played with energy. All it wanted now was opportunity. This Adair was determined to give it. He had that passionate fondness for his school which every boy is popularly supposed to have, but which really is implanted in about one in every thousand. The average public-school boy _likes_ his school. He hopes it will lick Bedford at footer and Malvern at cricket, but he rather bets it won't. He is sorry to leave, and he likes going back at the end of the holidays, but as for any passionate, deep-seated love of the place, he would think it rather bad form than otherwise. If anybody came up to him, slapped him on the back, and cried, "Come along, Jenkins, my boy! Play up for the old school, Jenkins! The dear old school! The old place you love so!" he would feel seriously ill. Adair was the exception. To Adair, Sedleigh was almost a religion. Both his parents were dead; his guardian, with whom he spent the holidays, was a man with neuralgia at one end of him and gout at the other; and the only really pleasant times Adair had had, as far back as he could remember, he owed to Sedleigh. The place had grown on him, absorbed him. Where Mike, violently transplanted from Wrykyn, saw only a wretched little hole not to be mentioned in the same breath with Wrykyn, Adair, dreaming of the future, saw a colossal establishment, a public school among public schools, a lump of human radium, shooting out Blues and Balliol Scholars year after year without ceasing. It would not be so till long after he was gone and forgotten, but he did not mind that. His devotion to Sedleigh was purely unselfish. He did not want fame. All he worked for was that the school should grow and grow, keener and better at games and more prosperous year by year, till it should take its rank among _the_ schools, and to be an Old Sedleighan should be a badge passing its owner everywhere. "He's captain of cricket and footer," said Jellicoe impressively. "He's in the shooting eight. He's won the mile and half two years running. He would have boxed at Aldershot last term, only he sprained his wrist. And he plays fives jolly well!"

"Sort of little tin god," said Mike, taking a violent dislike to Adair from that moment. Mike's actual acquaintance with this all-round man dated from the dinner-hour that day. Mike was walking to the house with Psmith. Psmith was a little ruffled on account of a slight passage-of-arms he had had with his form-master during morning school. "'There's a P before the Smith,' I said to him. 'Ah, P. Smith, I see,' replied the goat. 'Not Peasmith,' I replied, exercising wonderful self-restraint, 'just Psmith.' It took me ten minutes to drive the thing into the man's head; and when I _had_ driven it in, he sent me out of the room for looking at him through my eye-glass. Comrade Jackson, I fear me we have fallen among bad men. I suspect that we are going to be much persecuted by scoundrels." "Both you chaps play cricket, I suppose?" They turned. It was Adair. Seeing him a pair of very bright blue eyes and a and mood he would have liked Adair at against all things Sedleighan was too shortly. "Haven't you _ever_ played?" "My little sister and I sometimes play with a soft ball at home." Adair looked sharply at him. A temper was evidently one of his numerous qualities. "Oh," he said. "Well, perhaps you wouldn't mind turning out this afternoon and seeing what you can do with a hard ball--if you can manage without your little sister." "I should think the form at this place would be about on a level with hers. But I don't happen to be playing cricket, as I think I told you." Adair's jaw grew squarer than ever. Mike was wearing a gloomy scowl. Psmith joined suavely in the dialogue. "My dear old comrades," he said, "don't let us brawl over this matter. This is a time for the honeyed word, the kindly eye, and the pleasant smile. Let me explain to Comrade Adair. Speaking for Comrade Jackson and myself, we should both be delighted to join in the mimic warfare of our National Game, as you suggest, only the fact is, we happen to be the Young Archaeologists. We gave in our names last night. When you are being carried back to the pavilion after your century against Loamshire--do you play Loamshire?--we shall be grubbing in the hard ground for ruined abbeys. The old choice between Pleasure and Duty, Comrade Adair. A Boy's Cross-Roads." "Then you won't play?" "No," said Mike. "Archaeology," said Psmith, with a deprecatory wave of the hand, "will face to face, Mike was aware of square jaw. In any other place sight. His prejudice, however, much for him. "I don't," he said

sir. a keen school. and walked on. When we heard that there was a society here. We are. sir. we went singing about the house. "I don't like it. I suppose I can't hinder you. But in my opinion it is foolery. Scarcely had he gone. Let's go on and see what sort .brook no divided allegiance from her devotees. "If you choose to waste your time. but I tell you frankly that in my opinion it is an abominable waste of time for a boy." "We are." "A very wild lot. A boy ought to be playing cricket with other boys. I want every boy to be keen. "Archaeology!" "We gave in our names to Mr." said Psmith. "Now _he's_ cross. loafing habits. I was referring to the principle of the thing. to an excitable bullfinch. I suppose you will both play. wiry little man with a sharp nose and a general resemblance. looking after him. "I was not alluding to you in particular. "Excellent. I like every new boy to begin at once. as one who perceives a loathly caterpillar in his salad. too. the Archaeological Society here. probably smoking and going into low public-houses. I tell you I don't like it." said Psmith. It gets him into idle. Comrade Outwood loves us." said Psmith. nothing else. A short." "I never loaf. The more new blood we have. "Both you fellows are going to play cricket. above all. Outwood last night. the better. when another voice hailed them with precisely the same question. sir." sighed Psmith. shaking his head. not wandering at large about the country." "At any rate. sir. Downing vehemently. eh?" It was a master." He stumped off." "Good job." Mr." "On archaeology. "I'm afraid we're getting ourselves disliked here. both in manner and appearance. Archaeology is a passion with us. with fervour. Downing--for it was no less a celebrity--started. I fear." Adair turned." "I call it an unnatural pursuit for boys." said Mr. We want keenness here. "I saw Adair speaking to you. sir. It is not for me to interfere with one of my colleagues on the staff.

and Milton. who now treated Mike and Psmith with cold but consistent politeness. What made it worse was that he saw. he who preferred not to interfere with Stone and Robinson. He was a long way better than Neville-Smith. that Sedleigh cricket was not the childish burlesque of the game which he had been rash enough to assume that it must be. An innings for a Kindergarten _v. and he caught sight of white flannels on a green ground." CHAPTER XXXVII MIKE FINDS OCCUPATION There was more than one moment during the first fortnight of term when Mike found himself regretting the attitude he had imposed upon himself with regard to Sedleighan cricket." But every time he shrank from such a climb down. by the law of averages. rather timid-looking youth--not unlike what Mr. There were times. Outwood must have been as a boy--but he knew how to keep balls out of his wicket. In the first flush of his resentment against his new surroundings he had refused to play cricket. but there were some quite capable men. were both fair batsmen. to begin with. It was on a Thursday afternoon. "I _will_ be good. He began to realise the eternal truth of the proverb about half a loaf and no bread. The batting was not so good. Mike would have placed above him. It couldn't be done. was a very good bowler indeed. I was in the Wrykyn team three years. quite worthy colleagues even for a man who had been a star at Wrykyn.of a lunch that large-hearted fossil-fancier is going to give us. He did not repeat the experiment. There were other exponents of the game. and let me feel a bat in my hands again. and the others who had taken wickets for Wrykyn._ the Second Eleven of a Home of Rest for Centenarians would have soothed him. * * * * * One solitary overture Mike made during that first fortnight. Any sort of a game. and Wyatt. Barnes. Lead me to the nearest net. Numbers do not make good cricket. but Burgess was the only Wrykyn bowler whom. that swash-buckling pair. Adair. when the sun shone. the head of Outwood's. was a mild. Stone and Robinson themselves. and Stone was a good slow bowler. when he felt like rushing to Adair and shouting. They only make the presence of good cricketers more likely. He was a good bat of the old plodding type. and heard the "plonk" of bat striking ball. And now he positively ached for a game. after watching behind the nets once or twice. Altogether. and had an average of over fifty the last two seasons. Mike soon saw that cricket was by no means an unknown art at Sedleigh. after . in his three years' experience of the school. He was not a Burgess. mostly in Downing's house.

for Mr. from increased embarrassment. and brood apart for awhile. Outwood and his band were pecking away at the site of an old Roman camp. who had no counter-attraction shouting to him that he ought to be elsewhere. he would have patronised that. but patronising." he said. Mike on these occasions was silent and jumpy. and kept them by his aide. "This net. More abruptly this time. Psmith." said Adair coldly. "Go in after Lodge over there. He patronised fossils. his brow "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of care. The air was full of the scent of the cut grass which lay in little heaps behind the nets. Psmith approached Mike. let us slip away. as he sat there watching. "Having inspired confidence. He seemed to be consumed by a thirst for knowledge. Adair was taking off his pads after his innings. "This is the first eleven net. The day was warm. He went up to Adair. but freshened by an almost imperceptible breeze. Mike. "What?" he said. * * * * * The Archaeological Society expeditions. even though they carried with them the privilege of listening to Psmith's views on life. And I never want to see another putrid fossil in my life. to be absolutely accurate." But Psmith followed his leader with the pleased and indulgent air of a father whose infant son is showing him round the garden. Roman camps. He was amiable. This is the real cricket scent." it may be observed. He looked up. but Mike almost cried sometimes from boredom. If he had been confronted with the Great Pyramid. That this was not altogether a genuine thirst was proved on the third expedition. was the first eleven net. Outwood evidently looked upon them as among the very faithful. seemed to enjoy them hugely. Mike walked away without a word. "May I have an innings at this net?" he asked. Let us find some shady nook where a . Psmith's attitude towards archaeological research struck a new note in the history of that neglected science. who looked as if he were taking his first lesson at the game. where frenzied novices were bowling on a corrugated pitch to a red-haired youth with enormous feet. give me the pip. which calls to one like the very voice of the game. and was trying not to show it. The natural result was that his manner was offensively abrupt. and he patronised ruins. proved but a poor substitute for cricket. Mike repeated his request. could stand it no longer. He was embarrassed and nervous. "by the docility of our demeanour. It was not always possible to slip away from the throng." "Over there" was the end net.

" They had passed through a gate into the field beyond. dashed bad for the knees of the trousers. "and no farther. heaving the comfortable sigh of the worker who by toil has earned rest. listening to the water and making centuries in his mind. it is as well not to stop in order that you may get to understand each other. and closed his eyes. "Stop! What the dickens are you doing here?" shouted a voice behind him. We will rest here awhile. Looking back. "I was just having a look round. on acquaintance. and they strolled away down the hill. Mike would have carried on. He was too late. "And." Mike. jumped the brook. Mike sat on for a few minutes. At the further end there was a brook. this grubbing for mementoes of the past. they always liked him. they saw that the archaeologists were still hard at it. with his head against a mossy tree-stump. Mine are like some furrowed field. "A fatiguing pursuit. But when you meet a dog in some one else's wood. But now there seemed a lack of dignity in the action. and began to explore the wood on the other side. Call me in about an may lie on his back for a bit. and trusted to speed to save him." "The dickens you--Why. Mike began to thread his way back through the trees. for the Free Foresters last summer. over whom the proceedings connected with the Roman camp had long since begun to shed a blue depression. finding this a little dull. In this busy life of ours these naps by the wayside are invaluable. lay down." he said. "Thus far. but he could not place him. He came back to where the man was standing." said Psmith." And Psmith. you seem to be a bit of a free forester yourself. In fact. In the same situation a few years before. It's a great grief to a man of refinement. Mike liked dogs. this looks a likely spot. shaded by trees and running with a pleasant sound over pebbles. unless you have anything important to say. and began to bark vigorously at him. above all. you're Jackson!" Mike looked at him. hitching up the knees of his trousers. Mike knew that he had seen him before somewhere. Their departure had passed unnoticed." said Psmith. and sitting down. "I'm sorry if I'm trespassing. He was a short. "I played against you. Comrade Jackson. I can tell you. he got up. offered no opposition. dancing in among my . He had not gone many yards when a dog emerged suddenly from the undergrowth. and. and listen to the music of the brook. I rather think I'll go to sleep. broad young man with a fair moustache. Ah. and then. In passing.

" "You ought to have had me second ball. What you'd better do is to ride straight to Lower Borlock--that's the name of the place--and I'll meet you on the ground. but no great shakes. "I'm supposed to be hunting for ruins and things"--Mike's ideas on the subject of archaeology were vague--"but I could always slip away. How is it you're not at Wrykyn? What are you doing down here?" "I've left Wrykyn." "I'll lend you everything. I can hardly keep my hands off a bat. * * * * * . Where do you spring from?" "Of course--I remember you now. Can you come next Saturday?" "Rather. Look here. By Jove. turning to the subject next his heart." said Mike. I do a little farming and a good deal of pottering about. it is not always tactful to inquire the reason. Any one will tell you where Lower Borlock is." "That's all right. The Lower Borlock pitch isn't a shirt-front. He began to talk about himself." "I'll give you all you want. we can't give you a Wrykyn wicket. It's just off the London road. There's a sign-post where you turn off. get on to my bike--I've got it down here--and meet you anywhere you liked. By the way. you see. "Only village." he concluded. how are you off for cricket now? Have you ever got a spare afternoon?" Mike's heart leaped. you know. I'll tell you how it is." "I'll play on a rockery. You made fifty-eight not out. if you want me to.nesting pheasants. but I could nip back. I say." "Thanks. only cover dropped it. We all start out together." "Don't rake up forgotten tragedies." And he told how matters stood with him." Prendergast suddenly changed the conversation. Very keen. You're Prendergast. When a fellow tells you that he has left school unexpectedly. "So." "Get any cricket?" asked Mike." "I'm frightfully sorry. "I hang out down here. I suppose you can fix me up with a bat and pads? I don't want to bring mine. I'm simply dying for a game. I was afraid the only thing you would remember about me was that you took a century mostly off my bowling. "Any Wednesday or Saturday.

Cricket I dislike. and openly influenced in his official dealings with his form by his own private likes and dislikes. Mr. CHAPTER XXXVIII THE FIRE BRIGADE MEETING Cricket is the great safety-valve. Mike began. Downing was all that a master ought not to be." * * * * * That Saturday. Jackson. Downing's special care. I think I'll come and watch you. fussy. Their victory was due to a hurricane innings of seventy-five by a new-comer to the team. in that it was the direct cause of Mike's appearance in Sedleigh cricket. and it grew with further acquaintance. which usually resulted in Lower Borlock having to play some unskilled labourer in place of their star batsman. and are in a position to play it at least twice a week." One of the most acute of these crises. his pet hobby and the apple of his eye."You're going to what?" asked Psmith. I'll borrow Jellicoe's bicycle. to enjoy himself. Downing. It was. but it was a very decent substitute. They had taken a dislike to each other at their first meeting. don't tell a soul. M. will you? I don't want it to get about. or I may get lugged in to play for the school. It may be remembered that this well-supported institution was under Mr. It was not Wrykyn. though he would not have admitted it. and his average for Lower Borlock reached the fifties and stayed there. indeed. "I'm going to play cricket. Downing. Just as you had to join the Archaeological Society to secure the ." "My lips are sealed. As time went on. If you like the game. life can never be entirely grey. To Mike. sleepily. punctuated at intervals by crises. but watching cricket is one of the finest of Britain's manly sports. had to do with the third weekly meeting of the School Fire Brigade. employed doing "over-time. The only really considerable element making for discomfort now was Mr. on being awakened and told the news. who did nothing for the school and apparently had none of the instincts which should be implanted in the healthy boy. proved more than usually difficult in his dealings with Mike. Downing was rather strong on the healthy boy. Mike was simply an unamiable loafer. never an easy form-master to get on with. Lower Borlock smote the men of Chidford hip and thigh. Downing. I say. pompous. and Mr. Mr. for a village near here. and the most important. To Mr. By bad luck it was in his form that Mike had been placed on arrival. The two lived in a state of simmering hostility.

To show a keenness for cricket was good. under him was a captain. or Downing. Outwood. a sort of high priest. To-day they were in very fair form. The rest were entirely frivolous. but to join the Fire Brigade was best of all. Sammy was the other. short for Sampson. Sammy. a tenor voice. about thirty in all. If it is possible for a man to have two apples of his eye. much in request during French lessons. Downing pondered "Red. He was a large. the Wrykynian being always a firm ally of every dog he met after two minutes' acquaintance. Jellicoe owned a clock-work rat. sir?" asked Stone. who looked on the Brigade in the right. We will now proceed to the painful details. Wilson?" "Please. Downing. couldn't we have a uniform for the Brigade?" "A uniform?" Mr. and under the captain a vice-captain. He had long legs. sir.esteem of Mr. of whom perhaps seven were earnest workers. sir. by the reading of the minutes of the last meeting. In passing. The weekly meetings were always full of life and excitement. The proceedings always began in the same way. with green stripes. the tongue of an ant-eater. an engaging expression. Downing. These two officials were those sportive allies. "Shall I put it to the vote. The Brigade was carefully organised. was the Sedleigh colour. so to become a member of the Fire Brigade was a safe passport to the regard of Mr." Red. Stone. At this point it is as well to introduce Sammy to the reader. who. "One moment. with a thin green stripe. * * * * * The meetings of the Fire Brigade were held after school in Mr. and a manner which was a happy blend of hurricane and circular saw. having perceived at a very early date the gorgeous opportunities for ragging which the Brigade offered to its members. Wilson. Under them were the rank and file. was a young bull-terrier belonging to Mr. Stone and Robinson. of Outwood's house. had joined young and worked their way up. and a particular friend of Mike's. Downing had closed the minute-book. of the School House. Downing's form-room. At its head was Mr. Sammy was a great favourite in the school. As soon as Mr. "Well. held up his hand. After that the entertainment varied according to whether the members happened to be fertile or not in ideas for the disturbing of the peace. spirit." . light-hearted dog with a white coat. and was apparently made of india-rubber. Downing.

the falling timbers!" The Fire Brigade had been in action once and once only in the memory of man." "Please." "Please. and it would be just as good as a helmet for all the timbers that are likely to fall on our heads. We cannot plunge into needless expense. of course. Mr. Mr."Those in favour of the motion move to the left. may we have helmets?" "Those in favour--" began Stone. "Sit down!" he said. the motion is carried by twenty-five votes to six. sir-r-r!" "But." . sir. out of the question. Stone." said Robinson. may we have helmets?" "Very useful as a protection against falling timbers. "I don't think my people would be pleased. sir. Downing banged on his desk. sir. may I go and get measured this evening?" "Please. perfectly preposterous. listen to me. "Silence!" "Then. couldn't we have an honour cap? It wouldn't be expensive. sir. sir----" "Si-_lence_! The idea of a uniform is. sir. a slamming of desk-lids and an upset blackboard. sir. "Silence! Silence!! Silence!!! Helmets are. I cannot have this noise and disturbance! Another time when a point arises it must be settled by a show of hands. sir. Wilson?" "Please. get back to your place." "Oo-oo-oo-oo." A scuffling of feet. those against it to the right. "sit down! I won't have this noise and disturbance. Stone. Well. sit down--Wilson. and that time it was a haystack which had burnt itself out just as the rescuers had succeeded in fastening the hose to the hydrant. sir. The whole strength of the company: "Please." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. the danger!" "Please. and the meeting had divided." said Stone. if they knew I was going out to fires without a helmet. Downing rapped irritably on his desk. of course. please. sir. sir-r-r!" "Be _quiet!_ Entirely out of the question.

Wilson. And." as he reached the door. I think. sir." he remarked frostily. sir! I wasn't facetious! Or couldn't we have footer-tops. "A bird. as if somebody were being prevented from uttering them by a hand laid over his mouth. as many Wrykynians . "Our Wilson is facetious." he said. _please_. mingled with cries half-suppressed. sir?" inquired Mike. sir? No. Those near enough to see. "I deplore this growing spirit of flippancy. "I think it's something outside the window. "Noise. sir." A pained "OO-oo-oo." "What _sort_ of noise." Being interrupted in one of his addresses to the Brigade irritated Mr.Mr." said Robinson. "It's outside the door." "Are you making that whining noise?" "Whining noise. Downing. Downing proceeded to improve the occasion. saw that he was accompanied by Jellicoe's clock-work rat. sir!" "This moment. sir. The muffled cries grew more distinct. "I tell you I deplore it! It is not right! If this Fire Brigade is to be of solid use. Jackson. Downing. sir?" said a voice "off. sir?" asked Mike. There was a tap at the door and Mike walked in. I want you boys above all to be keen. sir-r-r. He was not alone. like the first fifteen have? They----" "Wilson. we are busy. sir?" asked Mike. "do me one hundred lines. "May I fetch a book from my desk. The sufferer appeared to have a high voice. We must have keenness. puzzled. Mr. "Don't be absurd!" snapped Mr. I'm not making a whining noise." was cut off by the closing door. "Very well--be quick. no. "What--is--that--noise?" shrilled Mr." said Stone helpfully. "Sir. Wilson!" "Yes. leave the room!" "Sir. which moved rapidly over the floor in the direction of the opposite wall. Downing. there must be less of this flippancy. Downing smiled a wry smile. I--What is that noise?" From the other side of the door proceeded a sound like water gurgling from a bottle.

had asked before him. sir." added Robinson." Crash! ." "Yes. sit down! Donovan. "Stone." "They are mowing the cricket field. It was a question invented by Wrykyn for use in just such a case as this. "Perhaps that's it. among the ruins barking triumphantly. the same! Go to your seat. remain. The twenty-three members of the Brigade who were not earnest instantly dealt with the situation. It rose above all the other noises till in time they gave up the competition and died away. you can all hear it perfectly plainly. Some leaped on to forms. all shouted. I said. threats. go quietly from the room. Henderson. "A rat!" shouted Robinson. "Silence! Wilson?" "Yes. and the india-rubber form of Sammy bounded into the room like an excited kangaroo. Willing hands had by this time deflected the clockwork rat from the wall to which it had been steering. Downing. like Marius." "It may be one of the desks squeaking. The banging on Mr. Come in. each in the manner that seemed proper to him. others flung books." "Or somebody's boots." said Mr." said the invisible Wilson. "They do sometimes. Sammy had by this time disposed of the clock-work rat. was just in time to see Sammy with a last leap spring on his prey and begin worrying it. bustling scene. Durand! Don't shuffle your feet in that abominable way. one hundred lines for gross disorder! Windham. It was a stirring. Downing shot out orders. and was now standing. sir. Broughton-Knight? I will not have this disgraceful noise and disorder! The meeting is at an end. "Don't shout at me from the corridor like that. Jackson and Wilson. and penalties with the rapidity of a Maxim gun. "to imitate the noise. if you do not sit down. Chaos reigned. and pointed it up the alley-way between the two rows of desks. _Quietly_. Downing's desk resembled thunder. "I do not propose. rising from his place. It is a curious whining noise. Vincent. What are you doing. Downing acidly. sir. sir!" As he spoke the muffled whining changed suddenly to a series of tenor shrieks. all of you." put in Stone. Mr. sir?" bellowed the unseen one. Mr. you will be severely punished.

"You may go." "I met Sammy on the gravel outside and he followed me. "You will stay in on Saturday afternoon. What's the meaning of this disgraceful conduct? Put that dog out of the room. Wilson was in the Fire Brigade." "I tried to collar him. sir. this is no place for boys who do nothing but waste their time. We are a keen school."Wolferstan. Downing allowed these facts to influence him in passing sentence." said Mike. "the rat happened to be pointing in the same direction. I fear. Jackson. "One hundred lines. everybody. but Mr. and paid very little for it. but when you told me to come in. Mr. it will interfere with your Archaeological studies. Downing turned to Mike. Mike the dog. Wilson. Wilson?" "Please. but it may teach you that we have no room at Sedleigh for boys who spend their time loafing about and making themselves a nuisance. so I came in----" "And by a fluke." Mike removed the yelling Sammy and shut the door on him." Wilson departed with the air of a man who has had a great deal of fun. Go quietly from the room. Mr. "that I had left my Horace in my desk. "Jackson and Wilson. Downing walked out of the room. sir. and had refused to play cricket. Downing that the burden of sin was shared equally by both culprits. Downing liked Wilson and disliked Mike. In affairs of this kind a master has a habit of getting the last word. Mike was a member of the Archaeological Society." And Mr." The meeting dispersed. That will do. I distinctly saw you upset that black-board with a movement of your hand--one hundred lines. sir. Wilson had supplied the rat. it was true. Jackson. too. but nevertheless a member. I was playing with a clock-work rat----" "What business have you to be playing with clock-work rats?" "Then I remembered. I had to let him go. CHAPTER XXXIX ACHILLES LEAVES HIS TENT . Also he kept wicket for the school. so he came in." It was plain to Mr." he said. frivolous at times. come here. "Well. and he came in after the rat." said Wilson. as one who tells of strange things. Jackson.

by return of post. as a matter of fact. They were just ordinary raggers of the type found at every . the return match. Robinson was laughing. done with. They sat down. he would be practically penniless for weeks. Having to yield a sovereign to Jellicoe--why on earth did the man want all that?--meant that." said Mike. But the motives of the expedition were obviously friendly. and disappeared in a cloud of gratitude. There was. (Which. and welcomed the intrusion. "I say. As Mike sat brooding over his wrongs in his study. "You're a sportsman. and there was a lob bowler in the Claythorpe ranks whom he was particularly anxious to meet again. You can freeze on to it. When one has been in the habit of confining one's lendings and borrowings to sixpences and shillings. and. Mike put down his pen." said Robinson. Jellicoe came into the room. who was playing regularly for the 'Varsity this season. he did. Mike's heart warmed to them." "Oh. they should have it. asked for the loan of a sovereign. without preamble. I do happen to have a quid. and got up. If Stone and Robinson wanted battle. But it's about all I have got. Stone in Psmith' s deck-chair. Robinson on the table. Stone beamed. nothing much wrong with Stone and Robinson. Mike felt that Fate was treating him badly. a request for a sovereign comes as something of a blow. unless a carefully worded letter to his brother Bob at Oxford had the desired effect." Jellicoe was profuse in his thanks.) Mike was struggling with the opening sentences of this letter--he was never a very ready writer--when Stone and Robinson burst into the room. "What on earth for?" asked Mike. sorry. forgotten. so don't be shy about paying it back. The fact is. In the previous game he had scored ninety-eight. so might be expected to be in a sufficiently softened mood to advance the needful. it may be stated at once. after the Sammy incident. "As a matter of fact. contemporary with Julius Caesar. He felt that he. In a gloomy frame of mind he sat down to write to Bob. Stone and Robinson must learn to know and appreciate one another. and only the previous week had made a century against Sussex. "What did he give you?" asked Stone. The little disturbance in the dormitory was a thing of the past. I'm in a beastly hole. do you mind if I don't tell you? I don't want to tell anybody. if you like. He was in warlike mood.They say misfortunes never come singly. Being kept in on Saturday meant that he would be unable to turn out for Little Borlock against Claythorpe.

and began to get out the tea-things. As for Mike. They were useful at cricket." "Don't you!" said Mike." . and always with an eye wide open for any adventure." "What!" "Is Wilson in too?" "No. They were absolutely free from brain. he now found them pleasant company. You can do what you like. small and large.public school.'" quoted Stone. They looked on school life purely as a vehicle for ragging. above all. and a vast store of animal spirits. My pater took me away. Winifred's" brand. Adair had a smouldering dislike for them. and you never get more than a hundred lines. why don't you have a shot? We aren't such flyers here. Small boys whom they had occasion to kick. Were you at school anywhere before you came here?" "I was at Wrykyn. "I got Saturday afternoon. As to the kind of adventure. they are not particular so long as it promises excitement. They had a certain amount of muscle. treading on the toes of their neighbour and shoving him off the pavement. "are a rag. to the mutual advantage of themselves and the rest of the community." Stone and Robinson were quite concerned. He got a hundred lines. They go about. and then they usually sober down. More often they run up against a snag in the shape of some serious-minded and muscular person who objects to having his toes trodden on and being shoved off the pavement. Sometimes they go through their whole school career without accident. "Don't you ever play?" "I have played a bit. "What a beastly swindle!" "That's because you don't play cricket." said Stone. loud and boisterous. One's opinion of this type of youth varies according to one's point of view. "Were you sacked?" "No. but apt not to take Sedleigh as seriously as he could have wished. Masters were rather afraid of them. "Well. "Those Fire Brigade meetings." "'We are. regarded Stone and Robinson as bullies of the genuine "Eric" and "St. a keen school. The Stones and Robinsons are the swashbucklers of the school world. you could get into some sort of a team." said Mike. If you know one end of a bat from the other. either from pure high spirits or as a punishment for some slip from the narrow path which the ideal small boy should tread." "Why on earth did you leave?" asked Stone. with a whole-hearted and cheerful indifference to other people's feelings. Old Downing lets you do what you like if you join the Fire Brigade and play cricket.

" "Think of the rag. old Downing fancies himself as a bowler." There was a profound and gratifying sensation. "Enough for six. We're playing Downing's." . Stone broke the silence."Wrykyn?" said Robinson. Downing always turns out on Mid-term Service day." "Adair sticks on side. He asked me if I'd like some games for them. Place called Little Borlock. It's nowhere near the middle of the term. do play. yes. and Robinson nearly dropped his tea-cup. surely?" "This isn't a real house match." said Mike. why aren't you playing? Why don't you play now?" "I do." agreed Robinson. You don't get ordered about by Adair. for a start. "Are you any relation of the Jacksons there--J. There's chapel at half-past nine till half-past ten. "By Jove. There are always house matches." said Stone." "What!" "Well. W. I say." said Robinson. A man who played against Wrykyn for the Free Foresters captains them. "But I mean to say--look here! What I mean is. do you bat or bowl?" "Bat. My word. "I did. I say. I play for a village near here. "Why. You _must_ play. and the others?" "Brother. "I've got an idea. Only a friendly. To-morrow's Mid-term Service day. Why don't you play and let's smash them?" "By Jove. Then the rest of the day's a whole holiday. I was in the team three years." "But why not for the school?" "Why should I? It's much better fun for the village. "Why don't you? They're always sticking on side because they've won the house cup three years running. "Why. look here. and knock the cover off him. Stone gaped. Why?" Robinson rocked on the table." said Stone. but they always have it in the fourth week." "Masters don't play in house matches. didn't you play at all there?" "Yes. and I should have been captain this year. what a rag!" "What's wrong now?" inquired Mike politely. if I'd stopped on.

Only the very self-controlled can refrain from improving the occasion and scoring off the convert. on his face the look of one who has seen visions." Barnes's manner became like that of a curate talking to a bishop. then. "The list isn't up yet. I was in the team. It was so in Mike's case. "then--er--will you play against Downing's to-morrow?" "Rather." said Mike. "I say. "I say. you come upon this boy dressed in cricket flannels."But the team's full. I mean. quite unexpectedly." he said. who had an average of fifty-one point nought three last year?" [Illustration: "ARE YOU THE M. From down the passage Mike heard yells of "_Barnes_!" the closing of a door. it seems only natural to assume that you have converted him. "Thanks awfully. and a murmur of excited conversation. (_b_) that all members of it should play cricket. WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY-ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?"] "Yes. "Are you the M. When you have been impressing upon a non-cricketing boy for nearly a month that (_a_) the school is above all a keen school. Downing he had the outward aspect of one. We'll nip across to Barnes' study." They dashed out of the room. and (_c_) that by not playing cricket he is ruining his chances in this world and imperilling them in the next. that the seeds of your eloquence have fallen on fruitful soil and sprouted. Downing assumed it." "Yes. and when. Barnes appeared." he said. Mr. wearing cricket boots and carrying a cricket bag. JACKSON. Have some tea?" CHAPTER XL THE MATCH WITH DOWNING'S It is the curious instinct which prompts most people to rub a thing in that makes the lot of the average convert an unhappy one. Most leap at the opportunity. and he had an immense respect for Wrykyn cricket. Mike was not a genuine convert. but to Mr. "is it true? Or is Stone rotting? About Wrykyn. Then footsteps returning down the passage." said Mike." Barnes was an enthusiastic cricketer. THEN. and make him alter it. . He studied his _Wisden_. Jackson.

the archaeologist of yesterday. Mike. In stories of the "Not Really a Duffer" type. and which never failed to ruffle Mr." "In our house. Why this sudden enthusiasm for a game which I understood that you despised? Are our opponents so reduced?" Psmith. Cricketer was written all over him--in his walk. Drones are not welcomed by us. 2 manner--the playful. could not have looked anything but a cricketer if he had turned out in a tweed suit and hobnail boots. with the result that that once-leisurely official now found himself sometimes. sir. sir. We are essentially versatile. "This is indeed Saul among the prophets. in the way he took . contrives to get an innings in a game. came up to Mike with the news that he had won the toss. becomes the cricketer of to-day. took charge of the affair with a languid grace which had maddened hundreds in its time. Downing's No. Mike saw. "What!" he cried. It was a good wicket. "I like to see it. At the beginning of the previous season Sedleigh had played a scratch team from a neighbouring town on a wicket which. "Our Jackson clad in suit of mail and armed for the fray!" This was Mr." * * * * * There were a number of pitches dotted about over the field. on the cricket field.He was walking to the field with Adair and another member of his team when he came upon Mike. and the request that Mike would go in first with him. was absolutely undistinguishable from the surrounding turf. Your enthusiasm has bounds. As a matter of fact the wickets at Sedleigh were nearly always good. There was no pitying smile on Adair's face as he started his run preparatory to sending down the first ball. "a keen house. Downing. Jackson. for there was always a touch of the London Park about it on Mid-term Service day. With Mike it was different. where the nervous new boy. who has been found crying in the boot-room over the photograph of his sister. nobody suspects that he is really a prodigy till he hits the Bully's first ball out of the ground for six." said Psmith earnestly. Adair. except for the creases. and behind the pavilion after the match Adair had spoken certain home truths to the ground-man. I notice. had naturally selected the best for his own match. Adair had infected the ground-man with some of his own keenness. "We are. who was with Mike. The latter's reformation had dated from that moment." "Indeed. It is the right spirit. above all. Smith? You are not playing yourself. sir. working really hard. and the Selection Committee unfortunately passed me over." he said. * * * * * Barnes. as captain of cricket. timidly jubilant. competition is fierce. with a kind of mild surprise.

two long steps. and dashed up against the rails. The crowd was now reluctantly dispersing to its own games. The last ball he turned to leg for a single. The ball dropped with a thud and a spurting of dust in the road that ran along one side of the cricket field. it might have broken in and become quite dangerous. when delivered. The ball was well up. "Get to them. gave a jump. A half-volley this time. six dangerous balls beautifully played. in his stand at the wickets. The general interest had now settled on the match between Outwood's and Downing's. He had got a sight of the ball now. as several of the other games had not yet begun. as the ball came . Mike's masterly treatment of the opening over had impressed the spectators. This time the hope was fulfilled. If the spectators had expected Mike to begin any firework effects with the first ball. and there was a popular desire to see how he would deal with Mr. and the bowler began his manoeuvres again. failed to stop it. in the hope that it might see something more sensational. subtly blended with the careless vigour of a cake-walk. He drove the sixth ball past cover for three. Mike started cautiously. The fieldsmen changed over. slow. Downing was a bowler with a style of his own. but it stopped as Mr. whose heart was obviously not in the thing. but the programme was subject to alterations. The ball." said Mr. The fact in Mike's case had gone round the field. and hit it a couple of feet from the ground. He was more than usually anxious to make runs to-day. and. during which the ball emerged from behind his back and started on its slow career to the wicket. Downing irritably. It was generally anticipated that he would do something special with them. Off the first ball of the master's over a leg-bye was run. It was returned on the instalment system by helpers from other games. He took two short steps. and ended with a combination of step and jump. Downing started his minuet-cake-walk. and mid-on. and off the wicket on the on-side. Mike went out at it. Jenkins. Adair started to bowl with the feeling that this was somebody who had more than a little knowledge of how to deal with good bowling and punish bad. and he knew that he was good. He had seen Adair bowl at the nets. and he meant to take no risks till he could afford to do so. His treatment of Adair's next over was freer. Mike slammed it back. He played the over through with a grace worthy of his brother Joe.guard. they were disappointed. Mr. Downing's slows. The whole business had some of the dignity of the old-fashioned minuet. was billed to break from leg. The first over was a maiden. Half-way through the over a beautiful square cut forced a passage through the crowd by the pavilion. took three more short steps. quite a large crowd had collected near the pavilion to watch. Mike took guard. Perhaps if it had been allowed to pitch.

waited in position for number four. Mr. Mike finished unfastening an obstinate strap. The expected happened. by three wides. A description of the details of the morning's play would be monotonous. sat on the splice like a limpet. from the neighbourhood of the pavilion. "Get to them. without the slightest success. Downing bowled one more over. was not out at lunch time with a score of eleven. and then retired moodily to cover-point. Jenkins. off which Mike helped himself to sixteen runs. He suddenly abandoned science and ran amok. Scared by this escape. . uttered with painful distinctness the words. and hit the road at about the same spot where the first had landed. there was a strong probability that Mr. There are moments when a sort of panic seizes a bowler. Adair came up. and. in Adair's fifth over. and the total of his side. if you can manage it. "Why did you say you didn't play cricket?" he asked abruptly. and Mike.back from the boundary. [Illustration: "WHY DID YOU SAY YOU DIDN'T PLAY CRICKET?" HE ASKED] When one has been bowling the whole morning. Mike's score had been increased by sixteen. He charged up to the wicket as a wounded buffalo sometimes charges a gun. in addition. he missed Barnes--the first occasion since the game began on which that mild batsman had attempted to score more than a single. Downing would pitch his next ball short. The third ball was a slow long-hop. where." "Sir. Downing. it is usually as well to be batting. By the time the over was finished. When a slow bowler starts to bowl fast. It is enough to say that they ran on much the same lines as the third and fourth overs of the match. This happened now with Mr. offering no more chances. A howl of untuneful applause rose from the watchers in the pavilion. please. His run lost its stateliness and increased its vigour. one is inclined to be abrupt. And a shrill small voice. with the feeling that this sort of bowling was too good to be true. Then he looked up. sir----" "Don't talk in the field. * * * * * As Mike was taking off his pads in the pavilion. and bowling well. His whole idea now was to bowl fast. Mike had then made a hundred and three." Having had a full-pitch hit for six and a half-volley for four. "Take him off!" That was how the most sensational day's cricket began that Sedleigh had known. Outwood's captain shrank back into his shell.

There's a difference. Downing distributed his thunderbolts unequally. they would be fools not to make the most of the situation. Mike tossed his pads into his bag and got up. "I never saw such a chump. I was in the Wrykyn team before I came here. I suppose?" "Not a bit. they had better think of declaring somewhere about half-past three or four. too. Three years. the most unpopular is he who by the silent tribunal of a school is convicted of favouritism. politely. Downing. "Sick! I should think they would." said Stone. On occasions when boys in his own house and boys from other houses were accomplices and partners in wrong-doing. I said I wasn't going to play here. having got Downing's up a tree. had acquired a good deal of unpopularity. Mr. Can't you see that by a miracle we've got a chance of getting a jolly good bit of our own back against those Downing's ticks? What we've got to do is to jolly well keep them in the field all day if we . won't they?" suggested Barnes." There was another pause. The result was that not only he himself. was met with a storm of opposition. "That's just the gay idea. and the school noticed it. thanks. Barnes's remark that he supposed. am I?" said Mike." There was a silence. I shall want a lot of coaching at that end net of yours before I'm fit to play for Sedleigh. As a matter of fact. Of all masters. "Above it." Adair was silent for a moment. "Will you play for us against the Old Sedleighans to-morrow?" he said at length. what on earth are you talking about?" "Declare!" Stone's voice was almost a wail of indignation. And the dislike deepens if it is a house which he favours and not merely individuals."I didn't say anything of the kind. but also--which was rather unfair--his house. "I'm not keeping you. It had been that master's somewhat injudicious practice for many years to treat his own house as a sort of Chosen People. unless anything happened and wickets began to fall a bit faster." "They'll be rather sick if we don't. Not up to it. "Great Scott. "Then you won't play?" asked Adair. "Declare!" said Robinson. The general consensus of opinion in Outwood's during the luncheon interval was that. "No. It was remarkable what a number of members of Outwood's house appeared to cherish a personal grudge against Mr.

But still the first-wicket stand continued. "Only you know they're rather sick already. Adair pounded away at one end with brief intervals between the attacks. amidst applause." said Barnes unhappily. The first pair probably have some idea of length and break. Games had frequently been one-sided." said Stone with a wide grin. For a quarter of an hour Mike was comparatively quiet." And so it came about that that particular Mid-term Service-day match made history. or when one is out without one's gun. Barnes. fortified by food and rest. passing in the road. In no previous Sedleigh match." "Rather not. are simply the sort of things one sees in dreams after a heavy supper. and Stone came out. mercifully. I won't then." "So do I. had the pathetic words "Did not bat" been written against the whole of one of the contending teams.can. Play was resumed at 2. Mr. proceeded to get to business once more. At four o'clock." said Robinson. in one of which a horse. If they lose about a dozen pounds each through sweating about in the sun after Jackson's drives.30. But the wicket was too good to give him a chance. smote lustily at a rather wide half-volley and was caught at short-slip for thirty-three. The fieldsmen clapped in quite an indulgent sort of . But it had never happened before in the annals of the school that one side. I swear I won't field. playing himself in again. tried their luck. "If you declare. that directly he had topped his second century. Bowlers came and went. generally breaks up a big stand at cricket before the field has suffered too much. Adair. when the score stood at two hundred and twenty for no wicket. Change-bowlers of various actions and paces. it was assumed by the field. had neither completed its innings nor declared it closed when stumps were drawn at 6. Downing took a couple more overs. and Mike. and be jolly glad it's so beastly hot. and that is what happened now. nearly had its useful life cut suddenly short. after a full day's play. Nor will Robinson. And the rest. Big scores had often been put up on Mid-term Service day. going in first early in the morning. the closure would be applied and their ordeal finished. The bowling of a house team is all head and no body. There was almost a sigh of relief when frantic cheering from the crowd told that the feat had been accomplished. I want an innings against that bilge of old Downing's. the small change. Time. if I can get it. Besides. each weirder and more futile than the last. was bowling really well." "Well. perhaps they'll stick on less side about things in general in future. He retired blushfully to the pavilion. These are the things which mark epochs. "They'll be a lot sicker before we've finished." "Don't you worry about that. greatly daring.15. The first-change pair are poor. As Mike had then made a hundred and eighty-seven. and his first half-dozen overs had to be watched carefully.

.. was mounting steadily..... "Capital.. too.. Barnes... was playing an innings of the How-to-brighten-cricket type...." "It is perfect foolery. A committee of three was at that moment engaged in sitting on Barnes's head in the first eleven changing-room. as was only natural..." "This is absurd... capital. not out. a slip of paper. but an excellent eye. The writing on it was as follows: OUTWOOD'S _v_. and the next over. as a matter of fact. and the next after that. He had an unorthodox style. But the next ball was bowled." Some even began to edge towards the pavilion.. _b_.. The bowling had now become almost unbelievably bad. He might be awfully annoyed if we did anything like that without consulting him. 277 W. there was on view. He has probably gone over to the house to fetch something. "Barnes!" "Please.. * * * * * In a neat wooden frame in the senior day-room at Outwood's.. P... nearly weeping with pure joy.. in order to correct a more than usually feverish attack of conscience. sir. DOWNING'S _Outwood's." "Absurd. "This is foolery.. but his score..." "He's very touchy... as the three hundred and fifty went up on the board. Stone. Hammond. being practically held down by Robinson and other ruffians by force. we can't unless Barnes does. _c_. and still Barnes made no sign." snapped Mr... "Barnes!" he called. Downing walked moodily to his place. Jackson.. Hassall..." said Stone. And now let's start _our_ innings. First innings. and the road at this period of the game became absolutely unsafe for pedestrians and traffic._ J. Downing. The game has become a farce.." Mr. 124 .. not out.. (The conscience-stricken captain of Outwood's was.... sir.. 33 M.. and Stone. a week later. You must declare your innings closed.. Mike's pace had become slower. J.. Lobs were being tried.) A grey dismay settled on the field. "I think Barnes must have left the field. just above the mantelpiece. as who should say." "Declare! Sir.. some species of telepathy telling him what was detaining his captain. There was no reply.. sir..way." "I think Jenkins is just going to bowl.

..." Psmith smoothed his hair at the glass and turned round again. "The only blot on this day of mirth and good-will singular conduct of our friend Jellicoe. But your performance was cruelty to animals. for three quid." said he. "In theory.. I don't suppose he'll ever take another wicket... When all ringing with song and merriment....... You have shown the lads of the village how Comrade Downing's bowling ought to be treated.... In fact. "the manly what-d'you-call-it of cricket and all that sort of thing ought to make him fall on your neck to-morrow and weep over you as a foeman worthy of his steel.Extras." "He doesn't deserve to.. it's worth it. even if one has scored mainly by the medium of boundaries.." murmured Mike. in a small way.. But a cordial invitation from the senior day-room to be the guest of the evening at about the biggest rag of the century had been refused on the plea of fatigue... 37 ----Total (for one wicket)... and his eyes were so tired that he could not keep them open. he will do his best to make it distinctly hot for you.. discoursed in a desultory way on the day's happenings--the score off Mr. "In an ordinary way. I suppose. if he had cared to take the part... fagged as he was. leaning against the mantelpiece.. I should say that. CHAPTER XLI THE SINGULAR BEHAVIOUR OF JELLICOE Outwood's rollicked considerably that night... from what I have seen of our bright little friend.... is. Psmith. "the the place was crept to my side. could have been the Petted Hero. and Mike.. a man can put up with having his bowling hit a little.. here and there. felt that all he wanted was to go to bed and stay there for a week.. You have lit a candle this day which can never be blown out. the undeniable annoyance of that battered bowler. slipping his little hand in mine. You will probably get sacked. Mike. His hands and arms burned as if they were red-hot." "I don't care. Twenty-eight off one over. not to mention three wides. as he lay back in Psmith's deck-chair." he said." . touched me This interested Mike. But I am prepared to bet a reasonable sum that he will give no Jiu-jitsu exhibition of this kind. Downing.. shifting his aching limbs in the chair. Comrade Jellicoe and. On the other hand. One does not make two hundred and seventy-seven runs on a hot day without feeling the effects. and the probability of his venting his annoyance on Mike next day. 471 Downing's did not bat. would have made Job foam at the mouth.

It was done on the correspondence system. "Yes?" "Have you--oh. Well. Mike lay for some time running over in his mind. and then dropped gently off. but he could not sleep. "Are you asleep. the various points of his innings that day. Jackson?" "Who's that?" "Me--Jellicoe. when he's collected enough for his needs. contributed nothing After Psmith had gone to sleep."What! Three quid!" "Three jingling. a time on human affairs in Jellicoe. Just as he was wondering whether it would not be a good idea to get up and have a cold bath. I'm stiff all over." "Nor can I. wrapped in gloom. I'm pretty well cleaned out. and gathered in a fifth during his first summer holidays. he'll pay me back a bit. Jackson!" he said. We may be helping towards furnishing the home. He felt very hot and uncomfortable. and then a weight descended in the neighbourhood of Mike's toes. Jellicoe was apparently not in conversational mood." "I'll come over and sit on your bed. a voice spoke from the darkness at his side." Silence again. who appeared to be to the conversation. I hope. nothing. There was a Siamese prince fellow at my dame's at Eton who had four wives when he arrived. as the best substitute for sleep. There appear to be the makings of a financier about Comrade Jellicoe. At the end of which time he gave a sound midway between a snort and a sigh." "But the man must be living at the rate of I don't know what." * * * * * a log." "I got some from my brother at Oxford. His Prime Minister fixed it up at the other end. clinking sovereigns. He wanted four. He uttered no word for quite three minutes. It was only yesterday that he borrowed a quid from _me_!" "He must be saving money fast. and sent him the glad news on a picture post-card." There was a creaking. I can't get to sleep." "Perhaps he's saving up to get married. Mike tumbled into bed that night like He ached all over. Psmith chatted for general. I think an eye ought to be kept on Comrade Jellicoe. . "I say.

what would your people say if you got sacked?" "All sorts of things. Jackson? I say. I don't know. Jackson!" "Hullo! What's the matter? Who's that?" . and wait. And then you'd be sent into a bank." "Happen when?" "When you got home. He was not really listening. "Nobody." Mike was too tired to give his mind to the subject. And then I suppose there'd be an awful row and general sickness. But if you were. 'Hullo!' And then they'd say. 'What are you doing here? 'And you'd say----" "What on earth are you talking about?" "About what would happen. Then he spoke again. So would mine. Jellicoe droned on in a depressed sort of way. I meant. My sister would be jolly sick. and then you'd have to hang about. flung so much agitated surprise into the last word that it woke Mike from a troubled doze into which he had fallen. After being sacked. as it were. and presently you'd hear them come in." "Yes. "You'd get home in the middle of the afternoon. "It would be a jolly beastly thing to get sacked. and all that." Mike dozed off again. My mater would be sick. too. as Jellicoe digested these great thoughts."Jackson. "My pater would be frightfully sick. and you'd go out into the passage. to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative. and you'd go in. and the servant would open the door." The bed creaked. Especially my pater. in order to give verisimilitude. I expect. and they'd say 'Hullo!'" Jellicoe. or to Australia." "Who's been sacked?" Mike's mind was still under a cloud. and you'd drive up to the house. you know. I suppose." "Everybody's would. "Hullo?" he said. "What's up?" "Then you'd say. Have you got any sisters. or something. They might all be out. Why?" "Oh." "Hullo?" "I say.

"I say. This thing was too much. of other members of English public schools. already looking about him for further loans." "Any what?" "Sisters. Except on the cricket field. He was as obstinate as a mule."Me--Jellicoe. where he was a natural genius." "What's up?" "I asked you if you'd got any sisters. As the Blue-Eyed Hero he would have been a rank failure." Mike pondered. He resembled ninety per cent. look out. The human brain could not be expected to cope with it." "Whose sisters?" "Yours. But it's jolly serious." "Any _what_?" "Sisters. Those who have followed Mike's career as set forth by the present historian will have realised by this time that he was a good long way from being perfect. or was he saving up to buy an aeroplane? "What on earth do you want a pound for?" "I don't want to tell anybody." "What about them?" The conversation was becoming too intricate for Jellicoe. and three pounds from another friend that very afternoon. sitting up in bed and staring through the darkness in the direction whence the numismatist's voice was proceeding." "Did you say you wanted some one to lend you a quid?" "Yes. You'll wake Smith. I shall get sacked if I don't get it. "Do _what_?" "I say. do you?" "What!" cried Mike. He had some virtues and a good many defects. though people whom he liked . "Do you know any one?" Mike's head throbbed. Was it a hobby. Here was a youth who had borrowed a pound from one friend the day before." said Jellicoe eagerly. I asked if you'd got any. he was just ordinary. you don't know any one who could lend me a pound. Jackson!" "Well?" "I say. He changed the subject.

The thought depressed him. He was good-natured as a general thing. he was prepared to act in a manner reminiscent of an American expert witness. which had arrived that evening. till Psmith. Bob's postal order. The great match had not been an ordinary match. Downing was the sort of master who would be likely to make trouble. but on occasion his temper could be of the worst. Young blood had been shed overnight. Downing was a curious man in many ways. In addition to this. One side does not keep another in the field the whole day in a one-day match except as a grisly kind of practical joke. That would probably be unpleasant. he was never put off by discomfort or risk. and a painfully vivid recollection of handing over the bulk of his worldly wealth to him. and abusive and pugnacious as regards the juniors. Where it was a case of saving a friend. was reposing in the breast-pocket of his coat. but. It was a wrench. stood in a class by itself. And when he set himself to do this. however. Downing to come. Yesterday's performance. . there was the interview with Mr. It was a particularly fine day. Mr.could do as they pleased with him. He was rigidly truthful. The house's way of signifying its comprehension of the fact was to be cold and distant as far as the seniors were concerned. in his childhood. who had a sensitive ear. if the situation was so serious with Jellicoe. * * * * * Two minutes later the night was being made hideous by Jellicoe's almost tearful protestations of gratitude. Mr. He had. been the subject of much adverse comment among his aunts. in addition. asked as a favour that these farm-yard imitations might cease until he was out of the room. he had never felt stiffer in his life. and had. for the latter carolled in a gay undertone as he dressed. though it seemed to please Jellicoe. where the issue concerned only himself. but he did not make a fuss on ordinary occasions when his bowling proved expensive. and more flowed during the eleven o'clock interval that morning to avenge the insult. it had to be done. Downing and his house realised this. and the postal order had moved from one side of the dormitory to the other. There were other things to make Mike low-spirited that morning. To begin with. It seemed to him that the creaking of his joints as he walked must be audible to every one within a radius of several yards. And Mr. CHAPTER XLII JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST Mike woke next morning with a confused memory of having listened to a great deal of incoherent conversation from Jellicoe. He was always ready to help people. Finally. one good quality without any defect to balance it. It stood forth without disguise as a deliberate rag. he was in detention. which made the matter worse. As Psmith had said. He went at the thing with a singleness of purpose that asked no questions. which in itself is enough to spoil a day.

but Mike did not doubt that in some way or other his form-master would endeavour to get a bit of his own back. * * * * * The Old Boys' match was timed to begin shortly after eleven o'clock. works it off on the boy. Downing came down from the heights with a run. "You are surrounded. Mr. Downing's methods of retaliation would have to be. at sea. His hearer must appear to be conscious of the sarcasm and moved by it. he began in a sarcastic strain. sir. snapping his pencil in two in his emotion. and abruptly concluded his remarks by putting Mike on to translate in Cicero. when he has trouble with the crew. who had left at Christmas to go to a crammer's." "Well. I _will_ have silence--you must hang back in order to make a more effective entrance. the user of it must be met half-way. like some wretched actor who--I will _not_ have this shuffling." Instant departure of Parsons for the outer regions." concluded Mr. It would be too commonplace altogether. who happened to have prepared the first half-page. Downing." "Please. That is to say. of necessity. are you shuffling your feet?" "Sir. he is inclined to single him out in times of stress. Parsons?" "I think it's the noise of the draught under the door. For sarcasm to be effective. in the excitement of this side-issue. You must--who is that shuffling his feet? I will not have it. And. You must act a lie. Veterans who had been in the form for terms said afterwards that there had been nothing to touch it. As events turned out. since the glorious day when Dunster. "by an impenetrable mass of conceit and vanity and selfishness. Which Mike. Macpherson. when masters waxed sarcastic towards him. By the time he had reached his peroration.Mr. that prince of raggers. and savage him as if he were the official representative of the evildoers. So Mr. It does not occur to you to admit your capabilities as a cricketer in an open. always assumed an air of stolid stupidity. sir. the speaker lost his inspiration. sir. had introduced three lively grass-snakes into the room during a Latin lesson. I have spoken of this before. "No. you must conceal your capabilities. Downing laughed bitterly. No. Mike. the rapier had given place to the bludgeon. Just as. especially a master who allows himself to be influenced by his likes and dislikes. did with much success. the skipper. that would not be dramatic enough for you. Downing was in a sarcastic mood when he met Mike. in their experience of the orator. more elusive. But this sort of thing is difficult to keep up. During the interval most of the school walked across the field to look . and began to express himself with a simple strength which it did his form good to listen to. Far too commonplace!" Mr. When a master has got his knife into a boy. he was perfectly right. no. straightforward way and place them at the disposal of the school. which was as a suit of mail against satire.

"slamming about like that." said Mike. The bright-blazered youth walked up. He helped the sufferer to his feet and they staggered off together. After which he sat down and began to nurse his ankle. "You'd better get over to the house and have it looked at. was lashing out recklessly at a friend's bowling. Dunster advancing with a sort of polka step. "or I'd have helped you over. puts his hands over his skull." "It's swelling up rather. crouches down and trusts to luck. with the faint beginnings of a moustache and a blazer that lit up the surrounding landscape like a glowing beacon." he groaned. The average person. "Awfully sorry. a long youth. but is not much protection against a skimming drive along the ground. One or two of the Old Boys had already changed and were practising in front of the pavilion. Mike had strolled out by himself. you know. It was through one of these batsmen that an accident occurred which had a good deal of influence on Mike's affairs. To their left." "I'll give you a hand." said Dunster. As Mike and Jellicoe proceeded on their way. "Silly ass. on hearing the shout. and rather embarrassingly grateful. But I did yell. Can you walk?" Jellicoe tried. there was a shout of "Heads!" The almost universal habit of batsmen of shouting "Heads!" at whatever height from the ground the ball may be. the pitch. . zeal outrunning discretion." "Awfully sorry. He uttered a yell and sprang into the air. as they crossed the field. Mike watched them start and then turned to go in. Jellicoe hopping. Half-way across the field Jellicoe joined him. Jellicoe was cheerful. Mike and Jellicoe instantly assumed the crouching attitude. This is an excellent plan if the ball is falling." said Mike. he prodded himself too energetically. Jellicoe was the first to abandon it. When "Heads!" was called on the present occasion. is not a little confusing. Hurt?" Jellicoe was pressing the injured spot tenderly with his finger-tips. "I shall have to be going in. He was just in the middle of his harangue when the accident happened. uttering sharp howls whenever. Already he had gone within an ace of slaying a small boy. man. but sat down again with a loud "Ow!" At that moment the bell rang.

" said Dunster. eyeing the other's manoeuvres with interest." said Dunster. fondling the beginnings of his moustache. "heaps of people tell me I ought to have it waxed. I was a life-like representation of the faithful "You still jaw as much as ever." stirring sight when we met. Mike. Arriving on the field he found the Old Boys batting. The sun never seems so bright or the turf so green as during the first five minutes after one has come out of the detention-room. "more." "It was a wonderfully unlike the meeting of doubtless read in the Ulysses. the darling of the crew. "Return of the exile. "not Ulysses and the hound Argos. "A joyful occasion tinged with melancholy. I notice. poor Jellicoe!" said Psmith." said Psmith. apply again. I'd no idea I should find him here. Mike made his way towards the pavilion. and when you have finished those. "were at a private school together. Restore your tissues. Have a cherry?--take one or two." said Dunster. Hullo! another man out. "It must have been a rag! Couldn't we work off some other rag on somebody before I go? I shall be stopping here till Monday in the village." "I heard about yesterday. Comrade Jackson. Dunster gave dawg. Adair's bowling better to-day than he did yesterday. felt very much behind the times. One feels as if one were entering a new and very delightful world. "You needn't be a funny ass. The fifth ball bowled a man." "What it really wants is top-dressing with guano. I have just been hearing the melancholy details. found Psmith seated under a tree with the bright-blazered Dunster. There is also a touch of the Rip van Winkle feeling." said Psmith. man. These little acts of unremembered kindness are what one needs after a couple of hours in extra pupil-room. and turning." sighed Psmith. "because Jellicoe wants to see you. as he walked to the cricket field. but Comrade Dunster has broached him to. of whom you have course of your dabblings in the classics. He stopped and watched an over of Adair's." ." "Old Smith and I. sir--Adair's bowling is perfectly simple if you go out to it. pained. and that is that it is very pleasant to come out of. Everything seems to have gone on and left one behind. "He is now prone on his bed in the dormitory--there a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Jellicoe. Before he got there he heard his name called. Is anything irritating you?" he added. "Is your name Jackson?" inquired Dunster." "Alas. Well hit." said the animal delineator. "More.CHAPTER XLIII MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION There is only one thing to be said in favour of detention on a fine summer's afternoon. faithful below he did his duty.

"it's too late. "I hadn't heard." Mike tilted his hat over his eyes and abandoned Jellicoe. I like to feel that I am doing good. It was Jellicoe's mind that needed attention now. the sun was very soothing after his two hours in the detention-room. Mike stretched himself.C. "was it anything important?" "He seemed to think so--he kept telling me to tell you to go and see him. do you?" he said." said Psmith." "I fear Comrade Jellicoe is a bit of a weak-minded blitherer----" "Did you ever hear of a rag we worked off on Jellicoe once?" asked Dunster." "What was it Jellicoe wanted?" asked Mike. it's no catch having to sweat across to the house now. I suppose. it'll keep till tea-time. You stay where you are--don't interrupt too much."Comrade Dunster went out to it first ball. Hamlet had got it." "Don't dream of moving. not so much physical as mental." said Psmith. "I mean. I hear Adair's got a match on with the M. Personally. he felt disinclined for exertion. "I say. where he found the injured one in a parlous state." "Has he?" said Psmith. I shall get sacked. "I don't suppose it's anything special about Jellicoe." said Psmith to Mike. "What's up? I didn't know there was such a hurry about it--what did you want?" "It's no good now." "What on earth are you talking about? What's the row?" . "Oh! chuck it." said Jellicoe gloomily. He went over to the house and made his way to the dormitory. "The man has absolutely no sense of humour--can't see when he's being rotted. I need some one to listen when I talk. at last. The doctor had seen his ankle and reported that it would be on the active list in a couple of days.C. It was not until the lock-up bell rang that he remembered him. man. the sun was in my eyes. Mike found him in a condition bordering on collapse." "I shall count the minutes. "I have several rather profound observations on life to make and I can't make them without an audience. but probably only after years of patient practice. dash it! I'll tell you when I see you again. Soliloquy is a knack. you might have come before!" said Jellicoe. Well it was like this--Hullo! We're all out--I shall have to be going out to field again. Archaeology claims so much of my time that I have little leisure for listening to cricket chit-chat.

" said Jellicoe miserably. hang it!" he said. for some mysterious reason. or he said he'd write to the Head--then of course I should get sacked." said Mike."It's about that money. with a red and cheerful face. he was the wag of the village team. look here." "He's the chap I owe the money to." "Lower Borlock?" "Yes. who looked ." "I say." Jellicoe sat up." "Yes. He was a large. Where do you want me to go?" "It's a place about a mile or two from here. it's frightfully decent of you. really?" "Of course I can! It'll be rather a rag. Every village team. "I know what I'll do--it's all right." "Old Barley!" Mike knew the landlord of the "White Boar" well." "Who would catch me? There was a chap at Wrykyn I knew who used to break out every night nearly and go and pot at cats with an air-pistol." "What absolute rot!" "But. so I couldn't move. "it can't be helped. only like an ass I thought it would do if I came over at lock-up. do you know it?" "Rather! I've been playing cricket for them all the term. called Lower Borlock. I'd no idea it was anything like that--what a fool I was! Dunster did say he thought it was something important. "Oh. only I got crocked. stout man. it's as easy as anything. "You can't! You'd get sacked if you were caught." The toad-under-the-harrow expression began to fade from Jellicoe's face." "I say. has its comic man. Barley filled the post. "I'm awfully sorry. do you think you could. I wanted to get hold of you to ask you to take it for me--it's too late now!" Mike's face fell. I was going to take the money to him this afternoon. have you? Do you know a man called Barley?" "Barley? Rather--he runs the 'White Boar'." "What about it?" "I had to pay it to a man to-day. it can. In the Lower Borlock eleven Mr. "I say. are you certain----" "I shall be all right. I'll get out of the house after lights-out." "It doesn't matter.

I won't tell him. CHAPTER XLIV AND FULFILS IT Mike started on his ride to Lower Borlock with mixed feelings. He was the last man Mike would have expected to do the "money by Monday-week or I write to the headmaster" business." he said. chuck it!" said Mike. Barley's doing everything he could to recover it. It seemed to him that it was none of his business to inquire into Jellicoe's private affairs." "Got it on you?" "Smith's got it. Probably in business hours After all. But he reflected that he had only seen him in when he might naturally be expected to unbend of human kindness. and be full of the milk he was quite different. but it did not occur to him to ask. but I had a key made to fit it last summer. "it's locked up at night." "I say!" "Well?" "Don't tell Smith why you want it. pleasure is one thing and business his leisure moments. It is pleasant to be out on a fine night in summer. "You can manage that. Besides. will you? I don't want anybody to know--if a thing once starts getting about it's all over the place in no time." said Jellicoe.exactly like the jovial inn-keeper of melodrama. which was unfortunate. and if Jellicoe owed it. thanks most awfully! I don't know what I should have done. but the pleasure is to a certain extent modified when one feels that to be detected will mean . because I used to go out in the early morning sometimes before it was opened. He took the envelope containing the money without question. He wondered a little what Jellicoe could have been doing to run up a bill as big as that. "if I can get into the shed." "I'll get it from him. as it might have saved him a good deal of inconvenience. I think. "I shall bike there." "All right. I----" "Oh." The school's bicycles were stored in a shed by the pavilion." "I say. there was nothing strange in Mr. five pounds is a large sum of money. another.

also. appearing in his shirt-sleeves. but occasionally his foot came down like a steam-hammer. communicating with the boots' room. "Why. he was fairly certain that his father would not let him go to Cambridge if he were expelled from Sedleigh. Mr. Now that he had grown used to the place he was enjoying himself at Sedleigh to a certain extent. until he came to the inn. Psmith had yielded up the key. The advantage an inn has over a private house. sir!" Mike was well known to all dwellers in Lower Borlock. "One of the Georges. there you are. Preparations have been made to meet such an emergency. but his inquiries as to why it was needed had been embarrassing. 'ullo! Mr. from the point of view of the person who wants to get into it when it has been locked up. with whom early rising was not a hobby. Jackson. is that a nocturnal visit is not so unexpected in the case of the former. . by the cricket field. I've given you the main idea of the thing. and all the lights were out--it was some time past eleven. too. but it was pleasant in Outwood's now that he had got to know some of the members of the house. After Mike had waited for a few minutes there was a rattling of chains and a shooting of bolts and the door opened. Where with a private house you would probably have to wander round heaving rocks and end by climbing up a water-spout. of course. However. as witness the Wrykyn school report affair. if you're bent on it----" After which he had handed over the key.expulsion. The place was shut. Still. Mike wished he could have taken Psmith into his confidence. and a German doctor says that early rising causes insanity. So Mike pedalled along rapidly. "Yes. It did not take him long to reach Lower Borlock." said Psmith. has that hard-worked menial up and doing in no time. which for the time being has slipped my memory. with honest amazement and a flood of advice and warning on the subject. once said that a certain number of hours' sleep a day--I cannot recall for the moment how many--made a man something. which. and he liked playing cricket for Lower Borlock. for many reasons. being wishful to get the job done without delay. He rode past the church--standing out black and mysterious against the light sky--and the rows of silent cottages. Mike would have been glad of a companion. Jackson was easy-going with his family. He still harboured a feeling of resentment against the school in general and Adair in particular. "I forget which. The "White Boar" stood at the far end of the village. Mike's statement that he wanted to get up early and have a ride had been received by Psmith. Probably he would have volunteered to come. sir?" said the boots. when you want to get into an inn you simply ring the night-bell. Mike did not want to be expelled. his scores being the chief topic of conversation when the day's labours were over.

"five pounds! They may teach you young gentlemen to talk Latin and Greek and what not at your school. Then he collapsed into a chair. "Well. Five minutes later mine host appeared in person." "The five--" Mr. looking more than usually portly in a check dressing-gown and red bedroom slippers of the _Dreadnought_ type. what's it all about?" "Jellicoe asked me to come and bring you the money. then he broke into a roar of laughter which shook the sporting prints on the wall and drew barks from dogs in some distant part of the house. Mr. Barley. For the life of him he could not see what there was to amuse any one so much in the fact that a person who owed five pounds was ready to pay it back. the five pounds. when this was finished he handed the letter to Mike." "I must see him. Can you get him down?" The boots looked doubtful." Mr. . Mike quite admitted the gravity of the task. "oh dear! the five pounds!" Mike was not always abreast of the rustic idea of humour. Jackson. and had another attack."I want to see Mr. who was waiting patiently by. Jack. thankful. Barley. perhaps. but rather for a solemn. "What's up?" he asked." "He's bin in bed this half-hour back. Mr. and now he felt particularly fogged. The landlord of the "White Boar" was one of those men who need a beauty sleep." Exit boots to his slumbers once more. "Five pounds!" "You might tell us the joke. "You can pop off. of course. hoping for light." "The money? What money?" "What he owes you. "Dear. and requested him to read it. which creaked under him." "Oh. dear!" chuckled Mr. Barley opened the letter. if it's _that_--" said the boots. "Roust the guv'nor outer bed?" he said. "Oh dear!" he said. read it. I've got some money to give to him. Jack. Jackson. It was an occasion for rejoicing. eyes-raised-to-heaven kind of rejoicing. He staggered about laughing and coughing till Mike began to expect a fit of some kind. Barley stared open-mouthed at Mike for a moment. and wiped his eyes. "I wish you would--it's a thing that can't wait.

or if one chooses to run them for one's own amusement. BARLEY. Mike. it was signed "T. in fact. Running risks is all very well when they are necessary. a position imperilling one's chance of going to the 'Varsity.--"I send the £5." There was some more to the same effect. they are. it 'ud do----" Mike was reading the letter. which I could not get before. I hope it is in time. I am sorry Jane and John ate your wife's hat and the chicken and broke the vase. Mr. accepted a stone ginger beer and a plateful of biscuits. took back the envelope with the five pounds. but. and the damage'll be five pounds. was more inclined to be abusive than mirthful." it ran. finishing this curious document. always up to it. it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you to come in when it rained. "DEAR MR." It is not always easy to appreciate a joke of the practical order if one has been made even merely part victim of it. I keep 'em for him till the young gentlemen go home for their holidays. It would have been cruel to damp the man. Mischief! I believe you. and they got on the coffee-room table and ate half a cold chicken what had been left there. "he took it all in. and as sharp as mustard. is another matter altogether. but to be placed in a dangerous position." "What on earth's it all about?" said Mike. "Why. and rode off on his return journey.but it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you how many beans make five. So Mike laughed perfunctorily. G. But it is impossible to abuse the Barley type of man. since. in contravention of all school rules and discipline. 'I'll have a game with Mr. Mike was . simply in order to satisfy Mr. the affair of old Tom Raxley. because I don't want you to write to the headmaster. Jellicoe over this. she is--she got hold of my old hat and had it in bits before you could say knife. Probably it had given him the happiest quarter of an hour he had known for years. Jellicoe keeps two dogs here. Jellicoe. Barley slapped his thigh. Aberdeen terriers. every word--and here's the five pounds in cash in this envelope here! I haven't had such a laugh since we got old Tom Raxley out of bed at twelve of a winter's night by telling him his house was a-fire. Barley's enjoyment of the whole thing was so honest and child-like. love us! they don't do no harm! Bite up an old shoe sometimes and such sort of things. Barley's sense of humour. about 'ar parse five. John upset a china vase in one of the bedrooms chasing a mouse. Mr.' and I sits down and writes off saying the little dogs have eaten a valuable hat and a chicken and what not. * * * * * Mention has been made above of the difference which exists between getting into an inn after lock-up and into a private house. So I says to myself. The other day. and will he kindly remit same by Saturday night at the latest or I write to his headmaster. Barley slapped his leg. Love us!" Mr. Jane--she's the worst of the two. as he reflected that he had been dragged out of his house in the middle of the night. last Wednesday it were.

and through the study window. as Mike came to the ground. There were thirty-four boys in Outwood's. He made the strategic error of sliding rapidly down the find this out for himself. Without waiting to discover what this might be. and gone to bed. This he accomplished with success. Outwood's house had been seen breaking in after lights-out. The position then would have been that somebody in Mr. Mike felt easier in his mind. Sergeant Collard . his foot touched something on the floor. however. and. that the voice had come. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was the exact remark. and locked the door. The suddenness. and as he wheeled his machine in. It was from the right-hand gate. The carriage drive ran in a semicircle. thus rendering exit and entrance almost as simple as they had been for Wyatt during Mike's first term at Wrykyn. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was that militant gentleman's habitual way of beginning a conversation. after which he ran across to Outwood's. It was pitch-dark in the shed. it may be remembered he had wrenched away the wooden bar which bisected the window-frame. his pursuer again gave tongue. With this knowledge. He had got about half-way up when a voice from somewhere below cried. but it would have been very difficult for the authorities to have narrowed the search down any further than that. and running. he leaned his bicycle against the wall. Downing's house. There were two gates to Mr. went out. One can never tell precisely how one will act in a sudden emergency. of which the house was the centre. nearest to Mr. Whereby Mike recognised him as the school sergeant. carried on up the water-pipe. As he did so. It was extremely unlikely that anybody could have recognised him at night against the dark background of the house. of the call caused Mike to lose his head. Outwood's front garden. Fortune had favoured his undertaking by decreeing that a stout drain-pipe should pass up the wall within a few inches of his and Psmith's study. The right thing for Mike to have done at this crisis was to have ignored the voice. He bolted like a rabbit for the other gate. He proceeded to scale this water-pipe. "Who's that?" CHAPTER XLV PURSUIT These things are Life's Little Difficulties. His first act on arriving at Sedleigh was to replace his bicycle in the shed. he saw a stout figure galloping towards him from that direction. of whom about fourteen were much the same size and build as Mike. On the first day of term.

He would give Sergeant Collard about half an hour. instead of making for the pavilion. When he moved now it was at a stately walk. with the sergeant panting in his wake. Presently the sergeant turned the corner. (notably a talent for what he was wont to call "spott'n. . that he had been seen and followed. and so to bed. It had just struck a quarter to something--twelve. and stopped at the door of the bicycle shed. Jackson?" Mike recognised Adair's voice. Then he would trot softly back. there was nothing to be gained from lurking behind a tree. He ran on. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" he shouted again. Then the sound of footsteps returning. Like Mike. Mike heard him toil on for a few yards and then stop. but Time. turned into the road that led to the school.was a man of many fine qualities. taking things easily. The fact that he ran to-night showed how the excitement of the chase had entered into his blood. disappeared as the runner. He would wait till a quarter past. till he reached the entrance to the school grounds. The last person he would have expected to meet at midnight obviously on the point of going for a bicycle ride. Having arrived there. His thoughts were miles away. They passed the gate and went on down the road. and started to stroll in the direction of the pavilion. in case the latter took it into his head to "guard home" by waiting at the gate. he saw a dim figure moving rapidly across the cricket field straight for him. He left his cover. The other appeared startled. There had been a time in his hot youth when he had sprinted like an untamed mustang in pursuit of volatile Pathans in Indian hill wars. At this point he left the pavilion and hailed his fellow rambler by night in a cautious undertone. turned aside. passing through the gate. for Mike heard it grate in the lock. He dashed in and took cover behind a tree." a mysterious gift which he exercised on the rifle range). "Is that you. when he was recalled to Sedleigh by the sound of somebody running. He began to feel that this was not such bad fun after all. at Wrykyn. if that was out of the question. he supposed--on the school clock. going badly and evidently cured of a good deal of the fever of the chase. had taken from him the taste for such exercise. he sat on the steps. as Mike. His programme now was simple. "Who the dickens is that?" he asked. shoot up the water-pipe once more. Mike's attentive ear noted that the bright speech was a shade more puffily delivered this time. this was certainly the next best thing. but he could not run. Mike waited for several minutes behind his tree. he was evidently possessed of a key. His first impression. this time at a walk. increasing his girth. but. Meanwhile. Focussing his gaze. He would have liked to be in bed. looking out on to the cricket field. The pursuer had given the thing up. A sound of panting was borne to him.

aroused from his first sleep by the news. Adair?" The next moment Mr. was disturbed in his mind. was groaning and exhibiting other symptoms of acute illness. Now it happened that Mr. was a very fair stomach-ache. But Mr. even if he had started to wait for him at the house. After a moment's pause. He would be safe now in trying for home again." "I suppose you think you're doing something tremendously brave and dashing?" "Hadn't you better be going to the doctor?" "If you want to know what I think----" "I don't. It came about. It seemed to Mike that Sergeant Collard. Downing emerged from his gate. with a cry of "Is that you. and. and a pound of cherries. after spending a few minutes prowling restlessly about his room. sprinting lightly in the direction of home and safety. Adair rode off. two ices. Mike stood not upon the order of his going. He was off like an . half a cocoa-nut." Mike turned away. was now standing at his front gate. three doughnuts. Downing saw in his attack the beginnings of some deadly scourge which would sweep through and decimate the house. that Mike. Jackson?" "What are you. Downing." "Oh!" "What are you doing out here?" "Just been for a stroll. Most housemasters feel uneasy in the event of illness in their houses."What are you doing out here. So long. an apple. He had despatched Adair for the doctor. Downing was apt to get jumpy beyond the ordinary on such occasions. and Mr. had his already shaken nerves further maltreated by being hailed. He walked in that direction." "Hadn't you better be getting back?" "Plenty of time. waiting for Adair's return. at a range of about two yards. The school clock struck the quarter. One of the chaps in our house is bad. the direct and legitimate result of eating six buns. would not keep up the vigil for more than half an hour. and washing the lot down with tea. therefore. as a matter of fact. whistling between his teeth. "I'm going for the doctor. that MacPhee. Mike saw his light pass across the field and through the gate. All that was wrong with MacPhee. one of the junior members of Adair's dormitory. conveyed to him by Adair. if it comes to that?" Adair was lighting his lamp.

arrow--a flying figure of Guilt. Mr. Downing, after the first surprise, seemed to grasp the situation. Ejaculating at intervals the words, "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" he dashed after the much-enduring Wrykynian at an extremely creditable rate of speed. Mr. Downing was by way of being a sprinter. He had won handicap events at College sports at Oxford, and, if Mike had not got such a good start, the race might have been over in the first fifty yards. As it was, that victim of Fate, going well, kept ahead. At the entrance to the school grounds he led by a dozen yards. The procession passed into the field, Mike heading as before for the pavilion. As they raced across the soft turf, an idea occurred to Mike which he was accustomed in after years to attribute to genius, the one flash of it which had ever illumined his life. It was this. One of Mr. Downing's first acts, on starting the Fire Brigade at Sedleigh, had been to institute an alarm bell. It had been rubbed into the school officially--in speeches from the daÃ‾s--by the headmaster, and unofficially--in earnest private conversations--by Mr. Downing, that at the sound of this bell, at whatever hour of day or night, every member of the school must leave his house in the quickest possible way, and make for the open. The bell might mean that the school was on fire, or it might mean that one of the houses was on fire. In any case, the school had its orders--to get out into the open at once. Nor must it be supposed that the school was without practice at this feat. Every now and then a notice would be found posted up on the board to the effect that there would be fire drill during the dinner hour that day. Sometimes the performance was bright and interesting, as on the occasion when Mr. Downing, marshalling the brigade at his front gate, had said, "My house is supposed to be on fire. Now let's do a record!" which the Brigade, headed by Stone and Robinson, obligingly did. They fastened the hose to the hydrant, smashed a window on the ground floor (Mr. Downing having retired for a moment to talk with the headmaster), and poured a stream of water into the room. When Mr. Downing was at liberty to turn his attention to the matter, he found that the room selected was his private study, most of the light furniture of which was floating on a miniature lake. That episode had rather discouraged his passion for realism, and fire drill since then had taken the form, for the most part, of "practising escaping." This was done by means of canvas shoots, kept in the dormitories. At the sound of the bell the prefect of the dormitory would heave one end of the shoot out of window, the other end being fastened to the sill. He would then go down it himself, using his elbows as a brake. Then the second man would follow his example, and these two, standing below, would hold the end of the shoot so that the rest of the dormitory could fly rapidly down it without injury, except to their digestions. After the first novelty of the thing had worn off, the school had taken a rooted dislike to fire drill. It was a matter for self-congratulation among them that Mr. Downing had never been able to induce the headmaster to allow the alarm bell to be sounded for fire drill at night. The headmaster, a man who had his views on the amount of sleep necessary for the growing boy, had drawn the line at night operations. "Sufficient unto the day" had been the gist of

his reply. If the alarm bell were to ring at night when there was no fire, the school might mistake a genuine alarm of fire for a bogus one, and refuse to hurry themselves. So Mr. Downing had had to be content with day drill. The alarm bell hung in the archway leading into the school grounds. The end of the rope, when not in use, was fastened to a hook half-way up the wall. Mike, as he raced over the cricket field, made up his mind in a flash that his only chance of getting out of this tangle was to shake his pursuer off for a space of time long enough to enable him to get to the rope and tug it. Then the school would come out. He would mix with them, and in the subsequent confusion get back to bed unnoticed. The task was easier than it would have seemed at the beginning of the chase. Mr. Downing, owing to the two facts that he was not in the strictest training, and that it is only an Alfred Shrubb who can run for any length of time at top speed shouting "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" was beginning to feel distressed. There were bellows to mend in the Downing camp. Mike perceived this, and forced the pace. He rounded the pavilion ten yards to the good. Then, heading for the gate, he put all he knew into one last sprint. Mr. Downing was not equal to the effort. He worked gamely for a few strides, then fell behind. When Mike reached the gate, a good forty yards separated them. As far as Mike could judge--he was not in a condition to make nice calculations--he had about four seconds in which to get busy with that bell rope. Probably nobody has ever crammed more energetic work into four seconds than he did then. The night was as still as only an English summer night can be, and the first clang of the clapper sounded like a million iron girders falling from a height on to a sheet of tin. He tugged away furiously, with an eye on the now rapidly advancing and loudly shouting figure of the housemaster. And from the darkened house beyond there came a gradually swelling hum, as if a vast hive of bees had been disturbed. The school was awake.

CHAPTER XLVI THE DECORATION OF SAMMY Smith leaned against the mantelpiece in the senior day-room at Outwood's--since Mike's innings against Downing's the Lost Lambs had been received as brothers by that centre of disorder, so that even Spiller was compelled to look on the hatchet as buried--and gave his views on the events of the preceding night, or, rather, of that morning, for it was nearer one than twelve when peace had once more fallen on the school.

"Nothing that happens in this luny-bin," said Psmith, "has power to surprise me now. There was a time when I might have thought it a little unusual to have to leave the house through a canvas shoot at one o'clock in the morning, but I suppose it's quite the regular thing here. Old school tradition, &c. Men leave the school, and find that they've got so accustomed to jumping out of window that they look on it as a sort of affectation to go out by the door. I suppose none of you merchants can give me any idea when the next knockabout entertainment of this kind is likely to take place?" "I wonder who rang that bell!" said Stone. "Jolly sporting idea." "I believe it was Downing himself. If it was, I hope he's satisfied." Jellicoe, who was appearing in society supported by a stick, looked meaningly at Mike, and giggled, receiving in answer a stony stare. Mike had informed Jellicoe of the details of his interview with Mr. Barley at the "White Boar," and Jellicoe, after a momentary splutter of wrath against the practical joker, was now in a particularly light-hearted mood. He hobbled about, giggling at nothing and at peace with all the world. "It was a stirring scene," said Psmith. "The agility with which Comrade Jellicoe boosted himself down the shoot was a triumph of mind over matter. He seemed to forget his ankle. It was the nearest thing to a Boneless Acrobatic Wonder that I have ever seen." "I was in a beastly funk, I can tell you." Stone gurgled. "So was I," he said, "for a bit. Then, when I saw that it was all a rag, I began to look about for ways of doing the thing really well. I emptied about six jugs of water on a gang of kids under my window." "I rushed into Downing's, and ragged some of the beds," said Robinson. "It was an invigorating time," said Psmith. "A sort of pageant. I was particularly struck with the way some of the bright lads caught hold of the idea. There was no skimping. Some of the kids, to my certain knowledge, went down the shoot a dozen times. There's nothing like doing a thing thoroughly. I saw them come down, rush upstairs, and be saved again, time after time. The thing became chronic with them. I should say Comrade Downing ought to be satisfied with the high state of efficiency to which he has brought us. At any rate I hope----" There was a sound of hurried footsteps outside the door, and Sharpe, a member of the senior day-room, burst excitedly in. He seemed amused. "I say, have you chaps seen Sammy?" "Seen who?" said Stone. "Sammy? Why?" "You'll know in a second. He's just outside. Here, Sammy, Sammy, Sammy! Sam! Sam!" A bark and a patter of feet outside. "Come on, Sammy. Good dog."

There was a moment's silence. Then a great yell of laughter burst forth. Even Psmith's massive calm was shattered. As for Jellicoe, he sobbed in a corner. Sammy's beautiful white coat was almost entirely concealed by a thick covering of bright red paint. His head, with the exception of the ears, was untouched, and his serious, friendly eyes seemed to emphasise the weirdness of his appearance. He stood in the doorway, barking and wagging his tail, plainly puzzled at his reception. He was a popular dog, and was always well received when he visited any of the houses, but he had never before met with enthusiasm like this. "Good old Sammy!" "What on earth's been happening to him?" "Who did it?" Sharpe, the introducer, had no views on the matter. "I found him outside Downing's, with a crowd round him. Everybody seems to have seen him. I wonder who on earth has gone and mucked him up like that!" Mike was the first to show any sympathy for the maltreated animal. "Poor old Sammy," he said, kneeling on the floor beside the victim, and scratching him under the ear. "What a beastly shame! It'll take hours to wash all that off him, and he'll hate it." "It seems to me," said Psmith, regarding Sammy dispassionately through his eyeglass, "that it's not a case for mere washing. They'll either have to skin him bodily, or leave the thing to time. Time, the Great Healer. In a year or two he'll fade to a delicate pink. I don't see why you shouldn't have a pink bull-terrier. It would lend a touch of distinction to the place. Crowds would come in excursion trains to see him. By charging a small fee you might make him self-supporting. I think I'll suggest it to Comrade Downing." "There'll be a row about this," said Stone. "Rows are rather sport when you're not mixed up in them," said Robinson, philosophically. "There'll be another if we don't start off for chapel soon. It's a quarter to." There was a general move. Mike was the last to leave the room. As he was going, Jellicoe stopped him. Jellicoe was staying in that Sunday, owing to his ankle. "I say," said Jellicoe, "I just wanted to thank you again about that----" "Oh, that's all right." "No, but it really was awfully decent of you. You might have got into a frightful row. Were you nearly caught?" "Jolly nearly."

"It _was_ you who rang the bell, wasn't it?" "Yes, it was. But for goodness sake don't go gassing about it, or somebody will get to hear who oughtn't to, and I shall be sacked." "All right. But, I say, you _are_ a chap!" "What's the matter now?" "I mean about Sammy, you know. It's a jolly good score off old Downing. He'll be frightfully sick." "Sammy!" cried Mike. "My good man, you don't think I did that, do you? What absolute rot! I never touched the poor brute." "Oh, all right," said Jellicoe. "But I wasn't going to tell any one, of course." "What do you mean?" "You _are_ a chap!" giggled Jellicoe. Mike walked to chapel rather thoughtfully.

CHAPTER XLVII MR. DOWNING ON THE SCENT There was just one moment, the moment in which, on going down to the junior day-room of his house to quell an unseemly disturbance, he was boisterously greeted by a vermilion bull terrier, when Mr. Downing was seized with a hideous fear lest he had lost his senses. Glaring down at the crimson animal that was pawing at his knees, he clutched at his reason for one second as a drowning man clutches at a lifebelt. Then the happy laughter of the young onlookers reassured him. "Who--" he shouted, "WHO has done this?" [Illustration: "WHO--" HE SHOUTED, "WHO HAS DONE THIS?"] "Please, sir, we don't know," shrilled the chorus. "Please, sir, he came in like that." "Please, sir, we were sitting here when he suddenly ran in, all red." A voice from the crowd: "Look at old Sammy!" The situation was impossible. There was nothing to be done. He could not find out by verbal inquiry who had painted the dog. The possibility of Sammy being painted red during the night had never occurred to Mr. Downing, and now that the thing had happened he had no scheme of action. As Psmith would have said, he had confused the unusual with the impossible, and the result was that he was taken by surprise.

and also a rooted conviction that Mr." "No. He received the housemaster frostily. he wanted revenge. thus publishing his condition to all and sundry. He had a cold in the head. The Head. His Fire Brigade system had been most shamefully abused by being turned into a mere instrument in the hands of a malefactor for escaping justice." said Mr. taking advantage of the door being open. on the other hand. Sammy's state advanced from a private trouble into a row. who. you say?" "Very big. "Dear me!" he said." "Dear me!" "There is another matter----" "Yes?" "This boy. but thawed as the latter related the events which had led up to the ringing of the bell." "You did not see his face?" "It was dark and he never looked back--he was in front of me all the time. "Was he wearing a school cap?" "He was bare-headed. Mr. The headmaster. had done something before he rang the bell--he had painted my dog Sampson red. He did not want to smile. I suppose not. who had had to leave his house in the small hours in his pyjamas and a dressing-gown. Downing?" "He painted my dog red--bright red. had rung the bell himself on the previous night in order to test the efficiency of the school in saving themselves in the event of fire. "He--he--_what_. deeply interested. was not in the best of tempers. A boy who breaks out of his house at night would hardly run the risk of wearing a distinguishing cap. but once it has mixed with the great public this becomes out of the question. "One of the boys at the school." The headmaster's eyes protruded from their sockets. in spite of his strict orders. did want to smile. instead of running about the road. Downing. Downing. escaped and rushed into the road. whoever he was. Downing was too angry to see anything humorous in the incident. he went straight to the headmaster. only. no.While he was pondering on this the situation was rendered still more difficult by Sammy. You can hush up a painted dog while it confines itself to your own premises. A big boy. and his dog had been held up to ridicule to all the world." Mr. Downing's next move was in the same direction that Sammy had taken. Mr. you think?" "I am certain of it. Since the previous night he had been wounded in his tenderest feelings. It was not his .

unidentified. It was only ." "Impossible. He had a clue! Now that the search had narrowed itself down to Outwood's house. Later he remembered the fact _À propos_ of some reflections on the subject of burglars in mediaeval England. at the time. and passed it on to Mr. Outwood. Downing. if he wanted the criminal discovered. "I shall punish the boy who did it most severely. He was in a state of suppressed excitement and exultation which made it hard for him to attend to his colleague's slow utterances. but he might very well have seen more of him than he. not to mention cromlechs. feeling perhaps that it had been a little hard upon Mr. quite impossible! I went round the dormitories as usual at eleven o'clock last night. The school filed out of the Hall to their various lunches. he would have to discover him for himself. A cordial invitation to the criminal to come forward and be executed was received in wooden silence by the school. "Not actually in. Perhaps Sergeant Collard had actually recognised the boy.. Downing. had seen. gave him a most magnificent start. I gather from the sergeant that he interrupted him before----" "I mean he must have been one of the boys in your house. Downing. and to him there was something ludicrous in a white dog suddenly appearing as a red dog. for the sergeant would scarcely have kept a thing like that to himself. who. "Quite so! Quite so!" said the headmaster hastily. broke into a wild screech of laughter. and Mr. Downing was left with the conviction that. Downing was not listening." Mr. of Outwood's. the rest was comparatively easy. he could look on the affair with an unbiased eye. whose thoughts were occupied with apses and plinths. The great thing in affairs of this kind is to get a good start. Oh yes. I will speak to the school in the Hall after chapel. Outwood who helped him. as far as I understand. but without result. "It is a scandalous thing!" said Mr. attempting to get into his house _via_ the water-pipe. suddenly reminded of Sammy's appearance by the headmaster's words. and informed him that at close on twelve the night before he had observed a youth. Mr. Downing. and Fate. and was instantly awarded two hundred lines." "But what was he doing out at that hour?" "He had broken out. Sergeant Collard had waylaid the archaeological expert on his way to chapel. Or reflection he dismissed this as unlikely. Instead of having to hunt for a needle in a haystack. Downing as they walked back to lunch. I think. and all the boys were asleep--all of them. It was Mr. "Then the boy was in your house!" exclaimed Mr." Which he did. he found himself in a moment in the position of being set to find it in a mere truss of with the exception of Johnson III. thanked the sergeant with absent-minded politeness and passed on.

' he used to say. Downing arrived." he said. ''e's feeflee good at spottin'. what yer doin' there?'" "Yes?" "But 'e was off in a flash. sergeant." "Did you notice anything at all about his appearance?" "'E was a long young chap. Sunday lunch at a public-school house is probably one of the longest functions in existence. Dinner was just over when Mr. 'e was doublin' away in the opposite direction. I did." "Ah!" . he used to say. "I did. sergeant?" "No. who were torpid after roast beef and resented having to move. Regardless of the claims of digestion. yer. He resolved to go the moment that meal was at an end. you saw a boy endeavouring to enter his house. Dook of Connaught. ''Ere comes Sergeant Collard. he rushed forth on the trail. but it finishes in time. sir. ejecting the family." he said. Having requested his host to smoke." "But you didn't catch him?" "No. Downing. sir. Downing stated his case. after sitting still and eyeing with acute dislike everybody who asked for a second helping. sir. "Mr. "Oo-oo-oo.with an effort that he could keep himself from rushing to the sergeant then and there. and I doubles after 'im prompt. sir--spotted 'im. as a blind man could have told. Feeflee good at spottin'. found himself at liberty." admitted the sergeant reluctantly. I am. in order to ensure privacy. It drags its slow length along like a languid snake." The sergeant blew a cloud of smoke. with a pair of legs on him--feeflee fast 'e run. The sergeant received his visitor with dignity.'" "What did you do?" "Do? Oo-oo-oo! I shouts 'Oo-oo-oo yer. and leaving the house lunch to look after itself. sir. Outwood. yer young monkey. sir. sir. "Did you catch sight of his face. * * * * * Sergeant Collard lived with his wife and a family of unknown dimensions in the lodge at the school front gate. which the latter was about to do unasked. "tells me that last night. feeflee!" "You noticed nothing else?" "'E wasn't wearing no cap of any sort. Mr. Oo-oo-oo. In due course Mr.

"Well. Downing went out into the baking sunlight." added the sergeant. sir. and furthermore to give young Ernie a clip side of the 'ead. sir. "Good-afternoon. if he persisted in making so much noise. on Wednesday." "I hope not. but it was a dark night. Sherlock Holmes can extract a clue from a wisp of straw or a flake of cigar-ash. The school plays the M. sir. I'm feeflee good at spottin'." "You would not be able to recognise him again if you saw him. having requested Mrs. "It was undoubtedly the same boy."Bare-'eaded. rested his feet on the table. sir. Outwood's house. is it not?" "Feeflee warm." "Pray do not move.C. "I will find my way out.C. Downing rose to go. rubbing the point in. Very hot to-day." The sergeant had not shown the slightest inclination of doing anything of the kind." "So do I. sir. with a label attached. CHAPTER XLVIII THE SLEUTH-HOUND For the Doctor Watsons of this world. "the search is now considerably narrowed down." Mr." he said. to a very large extent. you think?" "Oo-oo-oo! Wouldn't go so far as to say that. considerably! It is certain that the boy was one of the boys in Mr. weather's goin' to break--workin' up for thunder. the result of luck. sergeant." "Young monkeys!" interjected the sergeant helpfully. Collard to take the children out for a walk at once. But Doctor Watson has got to have it taken out for him. and exhibited clearly. sergeant." "Good-afternoon to you. 'cos yer see. and it would be a pity if rain were to spoil our first fixture with them. and dusted. undoubtedly! I wish you could have caught a glimpse of his face. sergeant. and slept the sleep of the just. success in the province of detective work must always be. as opposed to the Sherlock Holmeses." And Mr. Good afternoon. . put a handkerchief over his face. while Sergeant Collard.

Downing's mind as he walked up and down the cricket field that afternoon. requested that way peculiar to some boys. but. "Sir. just as the downtrodden medico did. only a limited number of boys in Mr.The average man is a Doctor Watson. He gets along very comfortably in the humdrum round of life without having to measure footprints and smile quiet. there were clues lying all over the place. he thought. a junior member of his house. to detect anybody. how--?" and all the rest of it. It was all very well for Sir Arthur to be so shrewd and infallible about tracing a mystery to its source. Downing with in the act of doing something he might be allowed to fetch his . It is not often that the ordinary person has any need to see what he can do in the way of detection. Riglett slunk up in the shamefaced when they have done nothing wrong. As he brooded over the case in hand." He simply assumes the animated expression of a stuffed fish. But if ever the emergency does arise. the conviction was creeping over him that the problem was more difficult than a casual observer might imagine. as a matter of fact. He had got as far as finding that his quarry of the previous night was a boy in Mr. unless you knew who had really done the crime. What he wanted was a clue. but. We are wont to scoff in a patronising manner at that humble follower of the great investigator. Mr. We should not even have risen to the modest level of a Scotland Yard Bungler. But it is so hard for the novice to tell what is a clue and what isn't. but he knew perfectly well who had done the thing before he started! Now that he began really to look into this matter of the alarm bell and the painting of Sammy. he was compelled to admit that there was a good deal to be said in extenuation of Watson's inability to unravel tangles. his sympathy for Dr. but even if there had been only one other. I cannot tell a lie--I was out of my house last night at twelve o'clock. Probably. There were. shouting to him to pick them up. Downing was working up for a brain-storm." the boy does not reply. it would have complicated matters. Watson increased with every minute. Outwood's house as tall as the one he had pursued. and his methods. having capped Mr. we should have been just as dull ourselves. tight-lipped smiles. All these things passed through Mr. if he only knew. now that he had started to handle his own first case. "Either you or Jones were out of your house last night at twelve o'clock. What with the oppressive heat of the day and the fatigue of hard thinking. even and. It is practically Stalemate. when Fate once more intervened. It certainly was uncommonly hard. and had thought many times what an incompetent ass Doctor Watson was. and leaves the next move to you. Downing had read all the Holmes stories with great attention. the air of one who has been caught particularly shady. as he paced the cricket field after leaving Sergeant Collard. of course. and he began to feel a certain resentment against Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Mr. If you go to a boy and say. We should simply have hung around. this time in the shape of Riglett. saying: "My dear Holmes. but how was he to get any farther? That was the thing. he thinks naturally of Sherlock Holmes. Outwood's house.

Downing remembered. It was the ground-man's paint. that he had got leave for tea that afternoon. A crimson foot-mark on the grey concrete! Riglett. and finally remarked. Mr. A foot-mark. And this was a particularly messy mess. Downing. and there on the floor was the Clue! A clue that even Dr. but just a mess. Paint. stood first on his left foot. to lock the door and resume his perambulation of the cricket field. Mr. and presently departed to gladden the heart of his aunt. leaving Mr. Then Mr. Downing. "Your bicycle?" snapped Mr. Watson could not have overlooked. Mr. Your careful detective must consider everything. Yoicks! There were two things. "Pah!" said Mr. his brain fizzing with the enthusiasm of the detective. whom he was accustomed to visit occasionally on Sunday afternoons during the term. "Get your bicycle. Riglett had an aunt resident about three miles from the school. Somebody has upset a pot of paint on the floor. Downing saw it. Obviously the same paint with which Sammy had been decorated. extracted his bicycle from the rack." Riglett. The greater part of the flooring in the neighbourhood of the door was a sea of red paint. Then suddenly. The sound recalled Mr. Red paint. blushed. but did not immediately recognise it for what it was. he saw the clue. In the first place. What he saw at first was not a Clue. and he is a demon at the game. A foot-mark! No less. Downing's brain was now working with a rapidity and clearness which a professional sleuth might have envied. however. Downing to mundane matters. The air was full of the pungent scent. Watson a fair start. walking delicately through dry places. He had been giving a fresh coating to the wood-work in front of . then on his right. the paint might have been upset by the ground-man. Riglett shambling behind at an interval of two yards. "and be careful where you tread." he said. to be considered. now coughed plaintively. He had a tidy soul and abhorred messes. who had been waiting patiently two yards away. Much thinking had made him irritable. Riglett. The tin from which it had flowed was lying on its side in the middle of the shed. "What do you want with your bicycle?" Riglett shuffled. and made his way to the shed. Downing. He felt for his bunch of keys. Whose foot-mark? Plainly that of the criminal who had done the deed of decoration. as if it were not so much a sound reason as a sort of feeble excuse for the low and blackguardly fact that he wanted his bicycle. beneath the disguise of the mess. Give Dr.bicycle from the shed. Downing unlocked the door.

Quite so. I shall be able to find them. Thank you. There are three in a row. but I could show you in a second. Things were moving. _Note one_: Interview the ground-man on this point. I merely wished to ask you if you found any paint on your boots when you returned to the house last night?" "Paint. His book had been interesting." A sharp walk took him to the cottages Adair had mentioned. I suppose. "Oh." "I see. But you say you found no paint on your boots this morning?" "No. (A labour of love which was the direct outcome of the enthusiasm for work which Adair had instilled into him. A summer Sunday afternoon is the time for reading in deck-chairs. Passing by the trees under whose shade Mike and Psmith and Dunster had watched the match on the previous day. It's one of those cottages just past the school gates. In the second place Adair might have upset the tin and trodden in its contents when he went to get his bicycle in order to fetch the doctor for the suffering MacPhee. * * * * * He resolved to take Adair first. "I see somebody has spilt some paint on the floor of the bicycle shed. sir. and the ground-man came out in . when you went to fetch your bicycle?" "No. Oh. Adair. for it would have been dark in the shed when Adair went into it." "Thank you. _Note two_ Interview Adair as to whether he found." "It is spilt all over the floor. I wondered whether you had happened to tread in it. sir. I should like to speak to Markby for a moment on a small matter. "No." he said.the pavilion scoring-box at the conclusion of yesterday's match. on returning to the house. where does Markby live?" "I forget the name of his cottage. I didn't go into the shed at all. my bicycle is always quite near the door of the shed. There's a barn just before you get to them. sir. He rapped at the door of the first. by the way.) In that case the foot-mark might be his. This was the more probable of the two contingencies. don't get up. Adair. Adair. His is the first you come to. on the right as you turn out into the road. that there was paint on his boots. sir?" Adair was plainly puzzled. He could get the ground-man's address from him. he came upon the Head of his house in a deck-chair reading a book. You did not do that. and had driven the Sammy incident out of his head.

as was indeed the case. Outwood did not really exist as a man capable of resenting liberties--find the paint-splashed boot. The fact is. So I thought I'd better give it a coating so as to look ship-shape when the Marylebone come down.his shirt-sleeves. Makes it look shabby. what did you do with the pot of paint when you had finished?" "Put it in the bicycle shed. so that the boot would not yet have been cleaned. That is all I wished to know." "On the floor?" "On the floor. Downing walked back to the school thoroughly excited. thank you. no. It wanted a lick of paint bad. sir. sir?" "No. He was hot on the scent now. It was Sunday. Markby!" "Sir?" "You remember that you were painting the scoring-box in the pavilion last night after the match?" "Yes. You had better get some more to-morrow. thank you. "Oh." "Do you want it. yes. somebody who had no business to do so has moved the pot of paint from the shelf to the floor. the sleuth-hound hurried across to Outwood's as fast as he could walk. Tell me. with the can of whitening what I use for marking out the wickets. Thank you. CHAPTER XLIX A CHECK . Outwood's house somewhere. and spilt. Markby." "Just so. Outwood's house--the idea of searching a fellow-master's house did not appear to him at all a delicate task." Mr. blinking as if he had just woke up. sir. Markby. Picture. The only other possible theories had been tested and successfully exploded. sir? No. with the result that it has been kicked over. The thing had become simple to a degree. On the shelf at the far end. too. Blue Fire and "God Save the King" by the full strength of the company. Yoicks! Also Tally-ho! This really was beginning to be something like business. sir. and denounce him to the headmaster. An excellent idea. ascertain its owner. There could be no doubt that a paint-splashed boot must be in Mr. A boy cannot tread in a pool of paint without showing some signs of having done so. The young gentlemen will scramble about and get through the window. sir. Just as I thought." "Of course. Markby. Regardless of the heat. Quite so. All he had to do was to go to Mr. somehow one grew unconsciously to feel that Mr.

He is welcome to them." said Psmith. found Mr. Downing standing in the passage with the air of one who has lost his bearings. "Or shall I fetch Mr. "Enough of this spoolery. he was trying without success to raise the spool from the ground. Mike had a deck-chair in one hand and a book in the other. Hullo!" He stared after the sleuth-hound. Downing.The only two members of the house not out in the grounds when he arrived were Mike and Psmith. "Er--Smith!" "Sir?" "I--er--wish to go round the dormitories." said Mike disparagingly. Do you feel inclined to wait awhile till I have fetched a chair and book?" "I'll be going on. Downing arrived." murmured Psmith courteously." "'Tis well. They were standing on the gravel drive in front of the boys' entrance. "I was an ass ever to try it. and Psmith." said Mike. "who can do it three thousand seven hundred and something times. as the bobbin rolled off the string for the fourth time. I wonder! Still." said he. That is to say. "What the dickens." It was Psmith's guiding rule in life never to be surprised at anything." snapped Mr." "With acute pleasure. What brings him round in this direction. sir. "I should be glad if you would fetch the keys and show me where the rooms are. who had just entered the house. The philosophical mind needs complete repose in its hours of leisure. Psmith--for even the greatest minds will sometimes unbend--was playing diabolo." Psmith smoothed a crease out of his waistcoat and tried again. no matter. sir?" "Do as I tell you. and said nothing. as he passed. The few articles which he may sneak from our study are of inconsiderable value. "does he mean by barging in as if he'd bought the place?" "Comrade Downing looks pleased with himself. I will be with you in about two ticks. The sound of his footsteps disturbed Psmith and brought the effort to nothing. "A warm afternoon. so he merely inclined his head gracefully. He had just succeeded in getting the thing to spin when Mr. Outwood. flinging the sticks through the open window of the senior day-room. . strolling upstairs to fetch his novel. sir. "There's a kid in France. I shall be under the trees at the far end of the ground." Mike walked on towards the field. Smith.

" Mr. sir. "The studies. sir?" inquired Psmith politely. "but are we chasing anything?" "Be good enough. Mr. Downing nodded. Downing with asperity. sir. baffled. sir. "This. Smith. having examined the last bed. "Excuse me. Here we have----" Mr. "I beg your pardon. opening a door." "I was only wondering. Outwood's boast that no boy has ever asked for a cubic foot of air in vain. I understand. "to keep your remarks to yourself. but went down to the matron's room. Each boy. constructed on the soundest hygienic principles. "Here. Shall I show you the next in order?" "Certainly. Smith. opening the next door and sinking his voice to an awed whisper. ." They moved on up the passage." Mr. "Are you looking for Barnes. Psmith waited patiently by. He argues justly----" He broke off abruptly and began to watch the other's manoeuvres in silence. Downing was peering rapidly beneath each bed in turn. Downing paused. sir. "I think he's out in the field." said Psmith. sir? No. Drawing blank at the last dormitory. he abstracted the bunch of keys from her table and rejoined the master. Downing glanced swiftly beneath the three beds. An idea struck the master. sir. It is Mr. This is Barnes'. Mr. Downing rose. Downing looked at him closely. "is where _I_ sleep!" Mr." said Psmith. "Is this impertinence studied. crimson in the face with the exercise. Smith?" "Ferguson's study. Smith." said Psmith. then moved on. Mr. has quite a considerable number of cubic feet of air all to himself. The matron being out.Psmith said no more. "Aha!" said Psmith. That's further down the passage. The frenzy of the chase is beginning to enter into my blood. The observation escaped me unawares. An airy room. The master snorted suspiciously. "Show me the next dormitory. sir?" he asked. "we have Barnes' dormitory. "Shall I lead the way." he cried. panting slightly." he said. Downing stopped short. Psmith's face was wooden in its gravity." said Mr.

sir. they go out extremely quickly. is it not." "I think. gadzooks! The boy whom he had pursued last night had been just about Jackson's size and build! Mr. sir?" said Psmith. "A lovely view. Outwood gave it us rather as a testimonial to our general worth than to our proficiency in school-work. The boy whom Sergeant Collard had seen climbing the pipe must have been making for this study. sir. And. the field. is mine and Jackson's. the distant hills----" Mr. The boy was precisely the sort of boy to revenge himself by painting the dog Sammy." "He is the only other occupant of the room?" "Yes. He spun round and met Psmith's blandly inquiring gaze. "Have you no bars to your windows here. sir. Smith?" "Jackson. Smith. Mr Downing was leaning out of the window. Downing with irritation." said Psmith." "Ah! Thank you." "Nobody else comes into it?" "If they do. sir. such as there are in my house?" "There appears to be no bar. Downing raked the room with a keen eye." Mr. that Mr. "No. The absence of bars from the window attracted his attention. That exquisite's figure and general appearance were unmistakable. sir. The boy he had chased last night had not been Psmith. "The trees. rapping a door. putting up his eyeglass." "Not at all." said Mr."Whose is this?" he asked. "Whom did you say you shared this study with. Downing suddenly started. sir. Jackson! The boy bore him a grudge. His eye had been caught by the water-pipe at the side of the window. The cricketer. Smith. He looked at Psmith carefully for a moment. "This." "What! Have you a study? You are low down in the school for it." "Never mind about his cricket." Mr. No. Downing pondered. sir. Downing was as firmly convinced at that moment that Mike's had been the hand to wield the paint-brush as he had ever been of anything . even in the dusk. sir.

and bent once more to his task. collects them. * * * * * He staggered back with the basket." "Where is the pair he wore yesterday?" "Where are the boots of yester-year?" murmured Psmith to himself. he did not know. "go and bring that basket to me here. Such a moment came to Mr. "You dropped none of the boots on your way up. Downing knelt on the floor beside . Smith?" "Not one. or it might mean that he had been out all the time." "Would they have been cleaned yet?" "If I know Edmund. "a fair selection of our various bootings. "I should say at a venture. sir. that they would be in the basket downstairs." said Psmith affably. That might mean that Mike had gone out through the door when the bell sounded. Mr. If he had been wise. I believe. he rushed straight on. and dumped is down on the study floor. "His boots. I noticed them as he went out just now. sir--no. at early dawn." Psmith's brain was working rapidly as he went downstairs. sir. What exactly was at the back of the sleuth's mind. and straightened out the damaged garment. he would have achieved his object." Mr. prompting these manoeuvres. sir? He has them on." he said. trembling with excitement. As it was. Downing." Mr. Downing uttered a grunt of satisfaction. "On the spot. on leaving his bed at the sound of the alarm bell. It began to look as if the latter solution were the correct one. Boots flew about the room. Downing stooped eagerly over it. It was a fine performance. painfully conscious the while that it was creasing his waistcoat. "Smith!" he said excitedly. by a devious and snaky his life. "Where are Jackson's boots?" There are moments when the giddy excitement of being right on the trail causes the amateur (or Watsonian) detective to be incautious." said Mr. Psmith leaned against the wall. our genial knife-and-boot boy. the getting a glimpse of Mike's boots. sir. Downing then. Psmith had noticed. sir." "Smith. Downing looked up. But that there was something. "We have here. and that that something was directed in a hostile manner against Mike. Mr. he was certain. that he and Jellicoe were alone in the room. Edmund. probably in connection with last night's wild happenings.

when Mr. The Head listened to the amateur detective's statement with interest." Bridgnorth was only a few miles from his own home and Mike's. rose to his feet. Downing had finished." as he did so. sir?" "Certainly not. of course. He knew nothing. You never knew whom you might meet on Sunday afternoon. "That's the lot." he said. and dug like a terrier at a rat-hole. "Can you tell me whose boot that is?" asked Mr. The ex-Etonian. Leave the basket here. "Yes. In his hand he held a boot. The headmaster was in his garden. carrying a dirty boot. Downing made his way. "Put those back again." Mr. Smith.the basket. Downing. began to pick up the scattered footgear. on the following day." "Come with me." "Shall I put back that boot. of course. Downing left the room. Thither Mr. and when. "Indeed?" he said. Smith. might be a trifle undignified. Psmith took the boot. Psmith looked at it again. Now come across with me to the headmaster's house. then. I can't say the little chap's familiar to me. At last he made a dive. "No. It was "Brown. Psmith looked at the name inside the boot. boot-maker. "I think it would be best. rising." he said. After a moment Psmith followed him. of the upset tin in the bicycle shed. with an exclamation of triumph. one puts two and two together. the housemaster goes about in search of a paint-splashed boot. whistling softly the tune of "I do all the dirty work. Across the toe of the boot was a broad splash of red paint. but when a housemaster's dog has been painted red in the night. sir. . Undoubtedly it was Mike's boot." he said." "Shall I carry it. sir?" Mr. I shall take this with me." It occurred to him that the spectacle of a housemaster wandering abroad on the public highway. Downing reflected. wearing an expression such as a martyr might have worn on being told off for the stake. the boot-bearing Psmith in close attendance. understood what before had puzzled him. and. Bridgnorth. and doing so. You can carry it back when you return. sir. "Ah.

you say. Downing was the first to break the silence. putting up his eyeglass. Psmith. Mr. Downing stood staring at the boot with a wild. sir!" "What! Do you mean to tell me that you did _not_ see it?" "No. red or otherwise." said the headmaster. Downing. Mr. It was a broad splash right across the toe.. but--Can _you_ point out to me this paint is that you speak of?" pince-nez. There is certainly no trace of paint on this boot. it may be that I have not examined sufficient care. Any doctor will tell you----" "I had an aunt." he said vehemently." said Psmith chattily. These momentary optical delusions are. "I tell you there was a splash of red paint across the toe. fixed stare. CHAPTER L THE DESTROYER OF EVIDENCE The boot became the centre of attraction." "This is foolery. Mr. Smith!" "Sir?" "You have the boot?" "Ah. "There was paint on this boot. "who was remarkably subject----" . sir. is the--? Just so. Smith. Just Mr."Indeed? Dear me! It certainly seems--It is a curiously well-connected thread of evidence." The headmaster interposed. You are certain that there was red paint on this boot you discovered in Mr. The headmaster looked at it with a mildly puzzled expression. But. I saw it with my own eyes. There was no paint on this boot. Just. it was absolutely and entirely innocent. Smith will bear me out in this. sir. Of any suspicion of paint. Downing. Outwood's house?" "I have it with me. gazed at it with a sort of affectionate interest.. this boot with exactly where Mr. the cynosure of all eyes. "You must have made a mistake. you saw the paint on this boot?" "Paint. I brought it on purpose to show to you. not uncommon. er. Downing fixed it with the piercing stare of one who feels that his brain is tottering. putting on a pair of look at--This.. "now let me so. I fancy. as if he were waiting for it to do a trick of some kind.

Downing. It is a habit of which I altogether disapprove. Smith. Mr." said Mr. "You had better be careful." "I am sorry that you should leave your preparation till Sunday." "Exactly. he did not look long at the boot."It is absurd. "My theory. On one occasion I inadvertently spilt some paint on a shoe of my own. The picture on the retina of the eye. It needs a very systematic cleaning before all traces are removed. "My theory. that the boot appeared to have a certain reddish tint. with the start of one coming suddenly out of a trance. The afternoon sun. Downing shortly. I cannot have been mistaken." said the headmaster. had not time to fade. "Well. if I may----?" "Certainly." said Psmith. A boot that is really smeared with red paint does not become black of itself in the course of a few minutes." "Yes." said the headmaster. "What did you say. Mr. "it seems to me that that is the only explanation that will square with the facts. "May I go now." "Really. The mistake----" "Bah!" said Mr. Smith?" "Did I speak. sir. consequently. sir? I am in the middle of a singularly impressive passage of Cicero's speech De Senectute. If Mr. Downing. I remember thinking myself. "for pleasure. is that Mr. really. at the moment. Downing recollects. "I am positively certain the toe of this boot was red when I found it. sir. Smith. Downing." "A sort of chameleon boot. Smith. streaming in through the window. Mr. with simple dignity. Smith could scarcely have cleaned the boot on his way to my house." said Psmith with benevolent approval." "I am reading it. must have shone on the boot in such a manner as to give it a momentary and fictitious aspect of redness." "It is undoubtedly black now. sir?" said Psmith." Psmith bowed courteously and proceeded. sir." "You are very right." "I strongly suspect you of having something to do with this. sir. sir?" ." murmured Psmith. Downing looked searchingly at him. "that is surely improbable." said Psmith. Downing was deceived by the light and shade effects on the toe of the boot. Shall I take the boot with me. I can assure you that it does not brush off. The goaded housemaster turned on him. sir.

if they had but known it. Then he flung himself into a chair and panted. "Brain. with a sigh. "Put that thing away. laid down his novel. he raced down the road. and rose to assist him. however. left the garden. The possibility. Downing. Downing was brisk and peremptory. of Psmith having substituted another boot for the one with the incriminating splash of paint on it had occurred to him almost immediately on leaving the headmaster's garden. "That thing. reckless of possible injuries to the crease of his trousers. Downing does not want it?" The housemaster passed the fraudulent piece of evidence to Psmith without a word. place it in the small cupboard under the bookshelf. carefully tucking up the knees of his trousers. He believed in the contemplative style rather than the hustling. having included both masters in a kindly smile. bounded upstairs like a highly trained professional athlete. Psmith's usual mode of progression was a dignified walk. He had not been reading long when there was a footstep in the passage. and Mr. the spectacle of Psmith running." he said. hurried over to Outwood's." he said to himself approvingly. "Sit down. and the latter. "I can manage without your help. too. Outwood's at that moment saw what. "is what one chiefly needs in matters of this kind. Smith. in fact the probability. his first act was to remove a boot from the top of the pile in the basket. was a most unusual sight. "I wish to look at these boots again. and lock the cupboard." . Without brain. every time. The scrutiny irritated Mr." said the housemaster." Psmith sat down again. Put it away. Feeling aggrieved with himself that he had not thought of this before. On this occasion. he reflected. Downing appeared. Pedestrians who had the good fortune to be passing along the road between the housemaster's house and Mr. and turning in at Outwood's gate. Psmith's impulse would be to do all that lay in his power to shield Mike. Mr. Psmith. were friends. that ridiculous glass." he said. and is struck with the brilliant idea that it's just possible that the boot he gave me to carry and the boot I did carry were not one boot but two boots. sir?" "Yes. Psmith and Mike. he. Meanwhile----" He dragged up another chair for his feet and picked up his novel. Smith. The next development will be when Comrade Downing thinks it over. and watched him with silent interest through his eyeglass."If Mr. On arriving at the study. where are we? In the soup.

perhaps." "I think you will find that it is locked. and his chin on his hands. who." . of harbouring the quarry. and something seemed to tell him that there was the place to look. It was no use asking Psmith point-blank where it was. sir. After the second search. Downing. Nothing of value or interest." "I guessed that that was the reason. sir." "May I read. A ball of string. he stood up. There was very little cover there. Smith." "Never mind." sighed Psmith replacing the eyeglass in his waistcoat pocket. sir. and looked wildly round the room. and resumed his contemplative inspection of the boot-expert." Mr. sir. but each time without success. "Don't sit there staring at me. lodged another complaint. sir?" "What is in this cupboard?" "That cupboard. even for so small a fugitive as a number nine boot. sir. Possibly an old note-book." "I was interested in what you were doing. He went through it twice."Why. "Yes. "Just a few odd trifles." "Open it. Then he caught sight of the cupboard. We do not often use it. and Mr. This cupboard. sir?" asked Psmith. "Yes. for Psmith's ability to parry dangerous questions with evasive answers was quite out of the common. pursued his investigations in the boot-basket. He rested his elbows on his knees. The floor could be acquitted. Downing rapped the door irritably. sir?" "Yes. read if you like. "Smith!" he said. He was as certain as he could be of anything that the missing piece of evidence was somewhere in the study. His eye roamed about the room." Psmith took up his book again. Psmith had been reading placidly all the while. patiently." "Thank you. sir?" "Why! Because I tell you to do so. on sight. now thoroughly irritated. after fidgeting for a few moments. Don't stare at me in that idiotic way.

sir?" "Have you not got the key?" "If the key is not in the lock." Psmith got up." Mr. I shall break open the door. then he himself could wait and make certain that the cupboard was not tampered with. Outwood in the general rule did not count much in the scheme of things. He also reflected. Psmith in the meantime standing in a graceful attitude in front of the cupboard. He thoroughly disbelieved the story of the lost key. to whom that cupboard happens to belong. "Yes. He was perfectly convinced that the missing boot was in the cupboard. in order to obtain his sanction for the house-breaking work which he proposed to carry through. And he knew that. Why should he leave the room at all? If he sent Smith."Unlock it. If you wish to break it open. "I don't believe a word of it. Smith would be alone in the room. "I have my reasons for thinking that you are deliberately keeping the contents of that cupboard from me. you must get his permission. Downing paused. he would instantly remove the boot to some other hiding-place. if Smith were left alone in the room. Smith?" he inquired acidly. Outwood. sir." Mr. Mr. And I know it's not Mr." "Where did you see it last?" "It was in the lock yesterday morning. Downing thought for a moment. Outwood. you may depend upon it that it will take a long search to find it." "But where is the key. Outwood. He stood chewing these thoughts for awhile. He is the sole lessee and proprietor of that cupboard. "Smith. staring into vacancy. Jackson might have taken it. To enter his house without his permission and search it to a certain extent was all very well. I am only the acting manager. sir." he said shortly. there was the maddening thought that if he left the study in search of Mr. "I'm afraid you mustn't do that." "Where is Jackson?" "Out in the field somewhere. perhaps----! On the other hand. sir. "Are you aware whom you are talking to. "go and find Mr." he said. But when it came to breaking up his furniture." Mr. Then he was seized with a happy idea. amazed. and ask him to be good . Downing stared. sir. but possibly there were limits to the treating of him as if he did not exist.

'Mr. sir." he continued. "Thwarted to me face. Mr. who resumed the conversation. I say to myself. If you will go to Mr. 'Psmith. sir. Downing was looking as if at any moment he might say. ha! And by a very stripling!" It was Psmith. Smith?" Mr. "Yes. Outwood at once. Psmith was staring reflectively at the ceiling. But in Mr. Outwood's house. imagine the colonel commanding the garrison at a naval station going on board a battleship and ordering the crew to splice the jibboom spanker." CHAPTER LI MAINLY ABOUT BOOTS "Be quick. Mr. His manner was almost too respectful. but the crew would naturally decline to move in the matter until the order came from the commander of the ship. sir." he said. One cannot." There was one of those you-could-have-heard-a-pin-drop silences. which made it all the more a pity that what he said did not keep up the standard of docility. "If you will let me explain. I would do the rest. Smith. ha. I ought to have remembered that before. So in my case. "Go and find Mr. Downing is a man I admire as a human being and respect as a master. I was about to say that in any other place but Mr. "I take my stand. and explain to him how matters stand." he said. Outwood wishes you to ask him to be good enough to come to this . "Let us be reasonable. as if he had been asked a conundrum. Downing's voice was steely." "What!" "Yes. I would fly to do your bidding." "one cannot. as the latter stood looking at him without making any movement in the direction of the door. Outwood's house I cannot do anything except what pleases me or what is ordered by Mr." Psmith still made no move. as who should say. "Do you intend to disobey me. your word would be law. "_Quick_. Smith. and come back and say to me.enough to come here for a moment. If you pressed a button. In----'" "This impertinence is doing you no good. Outwood. It might be an admirable thing for the Empire that the jibboom spanker _should_ be spliced at that particular juncture." Psmith waved a hand deprecatingly. to take a parallel case. however. Outwood. sir?" said Psmith meditatively. "on a technical point.

" "I can assure you. and washed off the soot. that it was hidden from above by the window-sill. at any rate. as the footsteps died away. "I have been washing my hands. Smith." . "Yes. Attaching one end of this to the boot that he had taken from the cupboard.' then I shall be only too glad to go and find him. "I did not promise that it would be the same boot. "But. Where is the difficulty?" "I cannot understand why you should suspect Smith of keeping his boots in a cupboard." snapped the sleuth. Then he turned to the boot. was fastened to the wall by an iron band. On a level with the sill the water-pipe. Placing this in the cupboard. "Very well. and took out the boot." why he should not do so if he wishes it." He took the key from his pocket." added Psmith pensively to himself. sir. as if he were not quite equal to the intellectual pressure of the situation. and thrust it up the chimney. Downing stalked out of the room. As an after-thought he took another boot from the basket. Downing wishes me to do. His first act was to fling the cupboard-key out into the bushes. when it had stopped swinging. blackening his hand. catching sight of a Good-Gracious-has-the-man-_no_-sense look on the other's face. A shower of soot fell into the grate. "Where have you been. unlocked the cupboard. sir?" "Go and fetch Mr. His next act was to take from the shelf a piece of string. Outwood. He noticed with approval." said Mr. Then he selected from the basket a particularly battered specimen." added Mr. he re-locked the door." Psmith flicked a speck of dust from his coat-sleeve. He went there. and. Outwood. Smith. and let the boot swing free. When he returned. You see my difficulty. sir. there will be a boot there when you return. Downing sharply. The bathroom was a few yards down the corridor. I cannot quite understand what it is Mr. and with him Mr. Downing was in the study. that if there is a boot in that cupboard now." "My dear Outwood." Mr. "I thought I had made it perfectly clear. the latter looking dazed. Outwood with spirit. I saw Smith go into the bathroom. I shall not tell you again. up which Mike had started to climb the night before. He tied the other end of the string to this. Downing suspiciously. he went to the window." "H'm!" said Mr. Mr. Smith?" asked Mr. "Smith. He returned to his place at the mantelpiece.

"I've been looking for it for days." "So with your permission. as Smith declares that he has lost the key. Last night a boy broke out of your house. and delivered two rapid blows at the cupboard-door. but they always managed to get themselves packed with the rest of his belongings on the last day of the holidays. "This boot has no paint on it. Outwood. Outwood with asperity. will you kindly give me your attention for a moment." "It certainly appears. "Objection? None at all. "Why?" "I don't know why. There's a sort of reddish glow just there. "Did you place that boot there." "I wondered where that boot had got to. sir. There was a pair of dumb-bells on the floor. sir." said Psmith sympathetically. Downing was examining his find. do you understand?" Mr. "or is there any more furniture you wish to break?" . Outwood started. "This is not the boot. Then." said Mr. Downing uttered a cry of triumph. A third blow smashed the flimsy lock. as plainly as if he had spoken the words. glaring at Psmith. Outwood looked amazedly at Smith. my dear fellow." "He painted--!" said Mr. "We must humour him. with any skeletons it might contain. Mr. round-eyed. Now. Smith?" "I must have done. was open for all to view. Have you any objection?" Mr. The wood splintered. He looked up with an exclamation of surprise and wrath. Let me see." he said. and Psmith shook his head sorrowfully at Mr. Downing?" interrupted Mr." said Psmith." he added helpfully. Psmith'a expression said. when I lost the key----" "Are you satisfied now." he said. The cupboard. During the escapade one of his boots was splashed with the paint."Exactly. At any rate. It is that boot which I believe Smith to be concealing in this cupboard. Downing shortly. Outwood." Mr. none at all. he did. and painted my dog Sampson red. Mr. I propose to break open the door of this cupboard. if you look at it sideways. "You have touched the spot." "If I must explain again. He never used them. "to be free from paint. _what_ is it you wish to do?" "This. Downing seized one of these. my dear Outwood. "I told you. approvingly. belonging to Mike." said Psmith. and tore the boot from its resting-place. "I told you.

from earth to heaven. You were not quite clever enough. You have done yourself no good by it. Apply them. It should have been done before. though. [Illustration: "DID--YOU--PUT--THAT--BOOT--THERE. Downing laughed grimly. Outwood had the grate. not to have given me all this trouble. and caught Psmith's benevolent gaze. He straightened himself and brushed a bead of perspiration from his face with the back of his hand. The sleuth-hound stood still for a moment.The excitement of seeing his household goods smashed with a dumb-bell had made the archaeological student quite a swashbuckler for the moment. "Did--you--put--that--boot--there. "WHAT!" . He bent down to "Dear me." said Psmith patiently. Downing's mind at that moment contained one single thought." Mr. also focussed itself on the pile of soot. and a thrill went through him. and the result was like some gruesome burlesque of a nigger minstrel. sir. A little more." "Then what did you _MEAN_ by putting it there?" roared Mr. "Fun!" Mr. and that thought was "What ho for the chimney!" He dived forward with a rush. Smith?" he asked slowly. baffled. rolling in a fine frenzy from heaven to earth. Downing a good. "I thought as much. "I must remember to have the chimneys swept." "No. Smith. and thrust an arm up into the unknown. Downing's eye. he used the sooty hand." he said. sir. sir. He looked up. "Animal spirits. Soot in the fireplace! Smith washing his hands! ("You know my methods." "You would have done better. and one could imagine him giving Mr. "We all make mistakes. Outwood off his feet. working with the rapidity of a buzz-saw. hard knock.") Mr. SMITH?"] "Yes. A Outwood's set him fizzing off on the trail caught sight of the little pile of soot in inspect it." argued Psmith." said Psmith. for at the same instant his fingers had closed upon what he was seeking. my dear Watson. An avalanche of soot fell upon his hand and wrist. Downing." "It's been great fun. Smith. But his brain was chance remark of Mr. once more. "Ah. Mr. nearly knocking Mr. after all. but he ignored it." he said. "You may have reason to change your opinion of what constitutes----" His voice failed as his eye fell on the all-black toe of the boot. sir. Unfortunately.

" In all times of storm and tribulation there comes a breaking-point. "Soot!" he murmured weakly. Really." "It certainly has a faintly sooty aspect. "You will hear more of this. Downing could not bear up against this crowning blow." he said. worked in some mysterious cell. until he should have thought out a scheme. accordingly. even if he could get hold of the necessary implements for cleaning it. at about the same height where Mr. and sponges. . the boot-boy. Outwood to lead him out to a place where there were towels. Smith. Downing had found the other." said Psmith. Psmith went to the window. He went down beneath it. as he had said. and it was improbable that Mr. most. soap. far from the madding crowd. Downing would have replied to this one cannot tell. he took the count. you present a most curious appearance. Having restored the basket to its proper place. The odds were that he had forgotten about it already. It seemed to him that. the best thing he could do would be to place the boot in safe hiding. The problem now was what to do with the painted boot. "Soot!" "Your face is covered. "I say you will hear more of it. * * * * * When they had gone. It was the knock-out. Outwood. with the feeling that he had done a good day's work. For. It would take a lot of cleaning. He felt the calm after-glow which comes to the general after a successfully conducted battle. Psmith went to the bathroom to wash his hands again. but on the whole it had been worth it. His voice roused the sufferer to one last flicker of spirit." he said." What Mr. Mr. to battle any longer against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. he went up to the study again. for the time being. His fears were realised. "My dear Downing. In the boot-cupboard downstairs there would probably be nothing likely to be of any use. It had been trying. at the back of the house. Edmund. and placed the red-toed boot in the chimney." Then he allowed Mr. Mr. In the language of the Ring. positively. my dear fellow."Animal spirits. he saw. for a man of refinement. Let me show you the way to my room. sir. and hauled in the string. Nobody would think of looking there a second time. intervened. of course. just as he was opening his mouth. quite covered. catching sight of his Chirgwin-like countenance. and it had cut into his afternoon. a point where the spirit definitely refuses. Outwood really would have the chimneys swept. It is positively covered with soot. though one can guess roughly. "your face. sir. You are quite black. You must come and wash it. The boot-cupboard was empty. And he rather doubted if he would be able to do so.

There was nothing. Edmund. summoned from the hinterland of the house to give his opinion why only one of Mike's boots was to be found. what am I to do? Where is the other boot?" "Don't know. So Psmith kept his own counsel. Boys say. which one observes naturally and without thinking. He made the mistake of not telling Mike of the afternoon's happenings. "Well. that enables one to realise how strong public-school prejudices really are. for instance. School rules decree that a boy shall go to his form-room in boots." And Mike sprinted off in the pumps he stood in. and then said. I can still understand sound reasoning." Edmund turned this over in his mind. "Great Scott. he should not wear shoes. a boy who appears one day in even the most respectable and unostentatious brown finds himself looked on with a mixture of awe and repulsion. Edmund." "Well. if the day is fine. you chump? I can't go over to school in one boot. Psmith was no exception to the rule. sir. the thing creates a perfect sensation. It was not altogether forgetfulness. Where there is only one in a secret the secret is more liable to remain unrevealed. if he does. Jackson. He seemed to look on it as one of those things which no fellow can understand. Mr. which would be excessive if he had sand-bagged the headmaster. where the regulations say that coats only of black or dark blue are to be worn. should he prefer them. I mean--Oh. Psmith was one of those people who like to carry through their operations entirely by themselves. Mr. he thought. But. It is only a deviation from those ordinary rules of school life. "Jones. dash it. as if he hoped that Mike might be satisfied with a compromise. to be gained from telling Mike." as much as to say. _what_ are you wearing on your feet?" In the few minutes which elapse between the assembling of the form for call-over and the arrival of the form-master. there's the bell.CHAPTER LII ON THE TRAIL AGAIN The most massive minds are apt to forget things at times. So in the case of boots. "I may have lost a boot. thank goodness. but. At a school. some wag is sure either to stamp on the . There is no real reason why. Jackson. "No. what _have_ you got on?" Masters say. had no views on the subject." replied Edmund to both questions. He forgot what the consequences might be if he did not." he said. "One? What's the good of that. with the result that Mike went over to school on the Monday morning in pumps. "'Ere's one of 'em. The most adroit plotters make their little mistakes.

He waged war remorselessly against shoes." A kind of gulp escaped from Mr. yes. Downing always detected him in the first five minutes. Jackson?" "Pumps. of a vivid crimson. On one occasion." mechanically. he told him to start translating. was taken unawares. had not been in his place for three minutes when Mr. he floundered hopelessly. Stone. since his innings against Downing's on the Friday. So that he escaped the ragging he would have had to undergo at Wrykyn in similar circumstances. and finally "That will do. had regarded Mike with respect. sir. It was only Mr. Mike had always been coldly distant in his relations to the rest of his form. as worms. "Yes. But. There was once a boy who went to school one morning in elastic-sided boots. had seen him through very nearly to the quarter to eleven interval. There is a sort of instinct which enables some masters to tell when a boy in their form is wearing shoes instead of boots. "I have lost one of my boots. as he usually did." "You are wearing pumps? Are you not aware that PUMPS are not the proper things to come to school in? Why are you wearing _PUMPS_?" The form. when a particularly tricky bit of Livy was on the bill of fare. to his growing surprise and satisfaction.. settled itself comfortably for the address from the throne. He stared at Mike for a moment in silence. abuse. who had been expecting at least ten minutes' respite. accompanying the act with some satirical remark. looking on but they feel it in their bones. Dunster had entered the form-room in heel-less Turkish bath-slippers. called his name. They cannot see it. and the subsequent proceedings. the form-master appeared to notice nothing wrong. Mr. Mike. Downing's lips. sir?" said Mike. or else to pull one of them off. Mr. Satire.. detention--every weapon was employed by him in dealing with their wearers." whereupon Stone resumed his seat with the feeling that the age of miracles had . Downing. just as people who dislike cats always know when one is in a room with them. stiffening like a pointer. "_What_ are you wearing on your feet. and inaugurate an impromptu game of football with it. Then. including his journey over to the house to change the heel-less atrocities. with a few exceptions. lines. Downing who gave trouble. he felt shaky in the morning's lesson.. It had been the late Dunster's practice always to go over to school in shoes when. sir. and the form. leaning back against the next row of desks. When he found the place in his book and began to construe. accordingly. turning to Stone. and that meant a lecture of anything from ten minutes to a quarter of an hour on Untidy Habits and Boys Who Looked like Loafers--which broke the back of the morning's work nicely. He said "Yes. Downing was perhaps the most bigoted anti-shoeist in the whole list of English schoolmasters.

"What on earth's the good of sweating about before breakfast? It only makes you tired. and at the earliest possible moment met to debate as to what was to be done about it. And Stone and Robinson had but a luke-warm attachment to the game. At all costs another experience like to-day's must be avoided. jumping on board. and the first American interviewer. Mike himself.C. came to a momentous decision. compared with Mike's. but neither cared greatly whether the school had a good season or not. I mean. in the cool morning air. Stone's dislike of the experiment was only equalled by Robinson's. "I don't intend to stick it. to whom cricket was the great and serious interest of life. and had caught catches and fielded drives which. Downing feel at that moment. sir. had stung like adders and bitten like serpents. They were neither of them of the type which likes to undergo hardships for the common good. it is no joke taking a high catch. match on the Wednesday." said Stone. CHAPTER LIII THE KETTLE METHOD It was during the interval that day that Stone and Robinson. His case was complete." "Personally. and all that sort of thing.returned. which nobody objects to. Adair had contented himself with practice in the afternoon after school. he had now added to this an extra dose to be taken before breakfast." said Robinson. Mr. had shirked early-morning fielding-practice in his first term at Wrykyn. consequently. Until the sun has really got to work. Rushing about on an empty stomach. When the bell rang at a quarter to eleven. "if it wasn't bad for the heart. As a rule. that searching test of cricket keenness. As Columbus must have felt when his ship ran into harbour. Downing's mind was in a whirl. with the explanation that he had lost a boot. They played the game entirely for their own sakes. Stone and Robinson had left their comfortable beds that day at six o'clock. to wit." . They played well enough when on the field. gnawing his bun. Mike's appearance in shoes. "Wal. The immediate cause of revolt was early-morning fielding-practice. that they were fed up with Adair administration and meant to strike. and what are your impressions of our glorious country?" so did Mr. The result was that they went back to the house for breakfast with a never-again feeling. had been put upon Stone's and Robinson's allegiance. and sped to the headmaster. discussing the subject of cricket over a bun and ginger-beer at the school shop. said. In view of the M." "I shouldn't wonder.C. completed the chain. he gathered up his gown. yawning and heavy-eyed. "It's all rot. however. and no strain." said Stone.

but in reality he has only one weapon. unless he is a man of action. Mr. beyond the fact that he had not seen them about anywhere. Taking it all round. A cricket captain may seem to be an autocrat of tremendous power. "Let's. The bowling of the opposition would be weaker in the former case." "Before breakfast?" said Robinson." And he passed on. "Rather. it's such absolute rot. who his right. practically helpless. the keenness of those under him. with a scratch team. leaving the two malcontents speechless." Their position was a strong one. consequently." At this moment Adair came into the shop. You two must buck up. wherever and however made. The majority. we'll go and play for that village Jackson plays for. And I don't mind that. Stone and Robinson felt secure.C. he'd better find somebody else." said Robinson. If we aren't good enough to play for the team without having to get up overnight to catch catches. questioned on the subject. as they left the shop. had no information to give. then he finds himself in a difficult position. Besides. Which was not a great help. what can he do. you know. but of the other two representatives of Outwood's house there were no signs. The result of all this was that Adair. As a rule he had ten minutes with the ." he said briskly. Downing."Nor do I. turning out with the team next morning for fielding-practice. "at six. You were rotten to-day. "Fielding-practice again to-morrow. Barnes. either. To a certain type of cricketer runs are runs. was accustomed the body with that of the he was silent and apparently wrapped in sat at the top of the table with Adair on at the morning meal to blend nourishment of mind. Barnes was among those present. If he does. Stone was the first to recover. the fear of being excluded or ejected from a team is a spur that drives." he said." "All right. they felt that they would just as soon play for Lower Borlock as for the school.C." "I mean. He can't play the M." "Nor do I. and the chance of making runs greater. At breakfast that morning thought. found himself two short." "Yes. after all? Only kick us out of the team." "I don't think he will kick us out. and. We'll get Jackson to shove us into the team. But when a cricket captain runs up against a boy who does not much care whether he plays for the team or not. Adair proceeded with the fielding-practice without further delay. of course. With the majority. "He can do what he likes about it. are easily handled. "I'm hanged if I turn out to-morrow.

To take it for granted that the missing pair had overslept themselves would have been a safe and convenient way out of the difficulty. Adair!" "Don't mention it. "Sorry. physical or moral. He was wondering what to do in this matter of Stone and Robinson. usually formed an interested and appreciative audience.daily paper before the bell rang. It was not until after school that an opportunity offered itself. Adair's entrance coincided with a record effort by Stone. "I know you didn't. these world-shaking news-items seemed to leave Adair cold. Stone spoke. engaged in the intellectual pursuit of kicking the wall and marking the height of each kick with chalk." "Sorry it bored you. Why not?" Stone had rehearsed this scene in his mind. He went across to Outwood's and found the two non-starters in the senior day-room. who left the lead to Stone in all matters. who. however. We didn't give it the chance to. "You were rather fed-up. I suppose?" "That's just the word. We came to the conclusion that we hadn't any use for early-morning fielding. Many captains might have passed the thing over. which caused the kicker to overbalance and stagger backwards against the captain." Robinson laughed appreciatively. He champed his bread and marmalade with an abstracted air. though the house-prefects expressed varying degrees of excitement at the news that Tyldesley had made a century against Gloucestershire. Why weren't you two at fielding-practice this morning?" Robinson. and he spoke with the coolness which comes from rehearsal." Adair's manner became ominously calm. To-day. "We didn't turn up." he said." "Oh?" "Yes. But Adair was not the sort of person who seeks for safe and convenient ways out of difficulties. He resolved to interview the absentees. ." "It didn't." said Stone. and that a butter famine was expected in the United States. "Hullo. and it was his practice to hand on the results of his reading to Adair and the other house-prefects. not having seen the paper. "We decided not to. He never shirked anything. said nothing.

There's no earthly need for us to turn out for fielding-practice before breakfast." "Don't be an ass. and was standing in the middle of the open space. You won't find me there." "That'll be a disappointment. but we don't care if you do. "There's no joke." said Stone." said the junior partner in the firm. "You've quite made up your minds?" "Yes. All the same. He was up again in a moment. Of course. Jackson will get us a game any Wednesday or Saturday for the village he plays for. Nor Robinson?" "No. if you like. you can kick us out of the team. I'll give you till five past six. but he said it without any deep conviction. as you seem to like lying in bed. And the school team aren't such a lot of flyers that you can afford to go chucking people out of it whenever you want to. "It's no good making a row about it." said Adair quietly. "I was only thinking of something. "I wasn't ready. The atmosphere was growing a great deal too tense for his comfort. Don't be late. I think you are." "You can turn out if you feel like it. Shall we go on?" ." "What are you going to do? Kick us out?" "No. I thought you'd see it was no good making a beastly row. We've told you we aren't going to. See what I mean?" "You and Jackson seem to have fixed it all up between you. Adair had pushed the table back. "Right. We'll play for the school all right. You must see that you can't do anything." "I'll give you something else to think about soon. Adair. Adair. So we're all right. "You cad." "Well. Robinson?" asked Adair."What's the joke." "You don't think there is? You may be right. with some haste. you are now." "What!" "Six sharp." said Stone." "That's only your opinion." said Robinson." Stone intervened. and knocked him down. you're going to to-morrow morning." "Good.

so Robinson replied that Mike's study was the first you came to on the right of the corridor at the top of the stairs. How about you." "I'll go and see. Robinson knew that he was nothing like a match even for Stone. At the end of a minute Stone was on the floor again. It seemed to Robinson that neither pleasure nor profit was likely to come from an encounter with Adair." said Stone. Adair was smaller and lighter than Stone. But science tells. But it takes a more than ordinarily courageous person to embark on a fight which he knows must end in his destruction. and Adair had disposed of Stone in a little over one minute." he said hastily. "Thanks. a task which precluded anything in the shape of conversation." CHAPTER LIV ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE Mike. He got up slowly and stood leaning with one hand on the table. "I should like a word with him if he isn't busy. "All right. I suppose?" "He went up with Smith a quarter of an hour ago. "Thanks. "I'm not particular to a minute or two. "I'll turn up. In different circumstances he might have put up a respectable show." "Good. "You don't happen to know if he's in." Stone made no reply." Stone was dabbing at his mouth with a handkerchief. even in a confined space. and he knew more about the game." said Adair. "Will ten past six suit you for fielding-practice to-morrow?" said Adair. "All right. but he was cooler and quicker. all unconscious of the stirring proceedings which had been going . "I wonder if either of you chaps could tell me which is Jackson's study." said Adair. and for a few moments the two might have seemed evenly matched to a not too intelligent spectator. and it did not take him long to make up his mind. "Suppose we say ten past six?" said Adair. I don't know if he's still there." said Adair. He was not altogether a coward. Robinson?" Robinson had been a petrified spectator of the Captain-Kettle-like manoeuvres of the cricket captain. His blow was always home a fraction of a second sooner than his opponent's.Stone dashed in without a word.

The Ripton match. led by Mike's brother Reggie. As he put Strachan's letter away in his pocket. I seem to see the _consommé_ splashing about his ankles. It might have made all the difference. returned with a rush. everything had gone wrong. but a bit of jolly good luck for Wrykyn. In Mike's absence things had been going badly with Wrykyn. "If you ask my candid opinion. Since this calamity. He was conscious once more of that feeling of personal injury which had made him hate his new school on the first day of term. Wrykyn had struck a bad patch. including Dixon.C. There are moments in life's placid course when there has got to be the biggest kind of row. contracted in the course of some rash experiments with a day-boy's motor-bicycle. as it had saved them from what would probably have been a record hammering. Altogether. with a team recruited exclusively from the rabbit-hutch--not a well-known man on the side except Stacey. "I should say that young Lord Antony Trefusis was in the soup already. to go in first and knock the bowlers off their length. fortunately. and went on reading. the concrete representative of everything Sedleighan. said Strachan. had smashed them by a hundred and fifty runs. And it was at this point. Mike mourned over his suffering school. the fast bowler. which had been ebbing during the past few days. entered the room. He's had a .C. against whom Mike alone of the Wrykyn team had been able to make runs in the previous season. Psmith was the first to speak. that Adair. reading the serial story in a daily paper which he had abstracted from the senior day-room. In school cricket one good batsman. the least of the three first-class-cricketing Jacksons. in which the successor to the cricket captaincy which should have been Mike's had a good deal to say in a lugubrious strain.. The Incogs. owing to an outbreak of mumps at that shrine of learning and athletics--the second outbreak of the malady in two terms. * * * * * Psmith. and contented himself with glaring at the newcomer. it was Strachan's opinion that the Wrykyn team that summer was about the most hopeless gang of dead-beats that had ever made an exhibition of itself on the school grounds. looking up from his paper. may take a weak team triumphantly through a season. had deprived the team of the services of Dunstable. made the intruder free of the study with a dignified wave of the hand. Mike remained in the deck-chair in which he was sitting. The M.on below stairs. wrote Strachan. when his resentment was at its height. the only man who had shown any signs of being able to bowl a side out. was peacefully reading a letter he had received that morning from Strachan at Wrykyn. A broken arm. Which." he said. Geddington had wiped them off the face of the earth. This was one of them. Ripton having eight of their last year's team left. was off. In fact. was hard lines on Ripton. who was leaning against the mantelpiece. In school cricket the importance of a good start for the first wicket is incalculable. all his old bitterness against Sedleigh. If only he could have been there to help. a veteran who had been playing for the club since Fuller Pilch's time--had got home by two wickets.

Shakespeare." Psmith turned away. He could not quite follow what all this was about. too. after a prolonged inspection. Adair. Leave us. which might possibly be made dear later. The fact that the M. "There are lines on my face. For some reason. is waiting there with a sandbag. We would brood. Such a bad example for Comrade Robinson. We must be strenuous. Oh." "That. "I just wanted to speak to Jackson for a minute. and Mike in his present mood felt that it would be a privilege to see that he got it." "Stone and I had a discussion about early-morning fielding-practice. match was on the following day made this a probable solution of the reason for his visit. It won't take long. but there was no mistaking the truculence of Adair's manner. "I'll tell you in a minute. I thought that you and he were like brothers. This is no time for loitering. "you do not mean us to understand that you have been _brawling_ with Comrade Stone! This is bad hearing. The fierce rush of life at Sedleigh is wasting me away. He could think of no other errand that was likely to have set the head of Downing's paying afternoon calls." said Psmith." Mike got up out of his chair.C. Adair was looking for trouble." said Adair. sitting before you. Care to see the paper. but it was pretty lively while it did. Comrade Adair? Or don't you take any interest in contemporary literature?" "Thanks. the poacher. "I'm not the man I was." "An excellent way of passing an idle half-hour." said Adair." "What do you want?" said Mike. dark circles beneath my eyes. He suspected that Adair had come to ask him once again to play for the school. "We weren't exactly idle. go thee. "I've just been talking to Stone and Robinson. I bet Long Jack." said Psmith. "has led your footsteps to the right place." he said. Despatch. Speed is the key-note of the present age." "Fate.note telling him to be under the oak-tree in the Park at midnight. We----" "Buck up. Promptitude." said Mike. We must hustle. "Certainly. Psmith was regarding Adair through his eyeglass with pain and surprise. We must Do It Now. "is right. Stone chucked it after the first round. and resting his elbows on the mantelpiece. That is Comrade Jackson. knave." said Adair grimly. "It didn't last long. the Pride of the School." ." he sighed. He's just off there at the end of this instalment. "Surely. gazed at himself mournfully in the looking-glass.C." said Psmith approvingly. I'll none of thee.

"are a bit close together." "I wonder how you got that idea!" "Curious I should have done. stepped between them.C. and I want you to get some practice. "What makes you think I shall play against the M. "So are you. "What makes you think that?" "I don't think. "Would you care to try now?" said Mike." Mike took another step forward. "I am. to-morrow. I know. Adair moved to meet him. after the manner of two dogs before they fly at one another. "I thought his fielding wanted working up a bit. You aren't building on it much. "I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. rather. So is Robinson." Mike remained silent. are you?" said Mike politely." "I don't think so. For just one second the two drew themselves together preparatory to beginning the serious business of the interview. turning to Mike. He's going to all right.C.C. "it's too late to alter that now." Mike drew a step closer to Adair." said Psmith regretfully. Mike said nothing." he added philosophically. and Adair looked at Mike. Mike looked at Adair." "My eyes." said Psmith from the mantelpiece. and in that second Psmith. so I told him to turn out at six to-morrow morning. ." "What's that?" "You're going to play for the school against the M." replied Adair with equal courtesy." "Any special reason for my turning out?" "Yes. turning from the glass. "I get thinner and thinner. There was an electric silence in the study.C." added Adair. He said he wouldn't. isn't it?" "Very. However. "I'm going to make you. so we argued it out.?" he asked curiously.said Adair. Psmith peered with increased earnestness into the glass. "Oh?" said Mike at last.

and are consequently brief and furious. "The rounds. I don't want all the study furniture smashed. Time. Dramatically. . however much one may want to win." CHAPTER LV CLEARING THE AIR Psmith was one of those people who lend a dignity to everything they touch. In a fight each party. In an ordinary contest with the gloves. But school fights. one does not dislike one's opponent. what would have been. I suppose you must." they rushed together as if they meant to end the thing in half a minute. I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grows. "My dear young friends. for goodness sake do it where there's some room. In a boxing competition. producing a watch. unless you count junior school scuffles--are the outcome of weeks of suppressed bad blood." After which. while Mike had never had a lesson in his life. A man who is down will have ten seconds in which to rise. But when you propose to claw each other in my study. against the direct advice of Doctor Watts." he said. and at the end of the last round one expects to resume that attitude of mind. a mere unscientific scramble. If Adair had kept away and used his head. he could not have lasted three rounds against Adair. All Adair wanted was to get at Mike. nothing could have prevented him winning. and all Mike wanted was to get at Adair."Get out of the light. Psmith waved him back with a deprecating gesture. took on something of the impressive formality of the National Sporting Club. then. without his guiding hand. "will be of three minutes' duration." said Mike. as if it had been the final of a boxing competition. If you really feel that you want to scrap. in the midst of a hundred fragile and priceless ornaments." he said placidly. Are you ready. when they do occur--which is only once in a decade nowadays. I lodge a protest. with a minute rest in between. It was this that saved Mike. as they passed through a gate into a field a couple of hundred yards from the house gate. Comrades Adair and Jackson? Very well. there should have been cautious sparring for openings and a number of tensely contested rounds. it was a pity that the actual fight did not quite live up to its referee's introduction. So it happened that there was nothing formal or cautious about the present battle. as a rule. where you can scrap all night if you want to. The latter was a clever boxer. Directly Psmith called "time. Up to the moment when "time" was called. only a few yards down the road. hates the other. How would it be to move on there? Any objections? None? Then shift ho! and let's get it over. with his opponent cool and boxing in his true form. one was probably warmly attached to him. Under his auspices the most unpromising ventures became somehow enveloped in an atmosphere of measured stateliness. "if you _will_ let your angry passions rise. Smith. On the present occasion.

and the result was the same as on that historic occasion. coming forward. "_He's_ all right. I think. and he found this new acquaintance a man to be respected. but this was the first time he had ever effected one on his own account. and if he sees you he may want to go on with the combat. I will now have a dash at picking up the slain. thirty seconds from the start. which for the ordinary events of life made him merely energetic and dashing. much as Tom Brown did at the beginning of his fight with Slogger Williams." "Is he hurt much. Where the spectators see an assault on an already beaten man. the cricketer. to him in a fresh and pleasing light. Mike's blow had taken him within a fraction of an inch of the point of the jaw. that Adair was done. He rose full of fight. He was conscious of a perplexing whirl of new and strange emotions. It was the Frontal Attack in its most futile form. got a shock which kept it tingling for the rest of the day. he felt an undeniable thrill of pride at having beaten him. as one who had had a tough job to face and had carried it through. He found himself thinking that Adair was a good chap. "but exciting. do you think?" asked Mike. and this time Adair went down and stayed down. knocked his man clean off his feet with an unscientific but powerful right-hander. Then he lurched forward at Mike. Mike Jackson. If it's going to be continued in our next. I'll look after him. but Jackson. he knew. and then Adair went down in a heap. He had seen knock-outs before in the ring. and Adair looked unpleasantly corpse-like. so he hit out with all his strength. he threw away his advantages. there had better be a bit of an interval for alterations and repairs first. Psmith saw. I shouldn't stop. He abandoned all attempt at guarding. and he was all but knocked out. For a moment he stood blinking vaguely. coming into contact with his opponent's right fist. The feat presented that interesting person. and that it was a pity he had knocked him about so much. but with all the science knocked out of him. now rendered him reckless. and as unsuccessful as a frontal attack is apt to be. He'll be sitting up and taking notice soon. The Irish blood in him. was strange to him. This finished Adair's chances. however. You go away and pick flowers. He got up slowly and with difficulty. that there was something to be said for his point of view. Mike could not see this. the fighter himself only sees a legitimate piece of self-defence against an opponent whose chances are equal to his own.As it was. as anybody looking on would have seen. which would do him no earthly good. chief among which was a curious feeling that he rather liked Adair." Mike put on his coat and walked back to the house. to be the conclusion of the entertainment. He went in at Mike with both hands. In the excitement of a fight--which is. There was a swift exchange of blows. All he understood was that his man was on his feet again and coming at him. if I were you." said Psmith. At the same time. after all. "In a minute or two he'll be skipping about like a little lambkin. . and. about the most exciting thing that ever happens to one in the course of one's life--it is difficult for the fighters to see what the spectators see. We may take that." said Psmith. "Brief. the deliverer of knock-out blows. Mike had the greater strength. Jackson. in the course of which Mike's left elbow.

"I told him he didn't know the old _noblesse oblige_ spirit of the Jacksons. What seems to have fed up Comrade Adair. He now saw that his attitude was to be summed up in the words. It's not a bad idea in its way. a touch of the stone-walls-do-not-a-prison-make sort of thing. when Psmith entered the study. I don't see why one shouldn't humour him." continued Psmith. if they are fought fairly and until one side has had enough. but he was not sure that he was quite prepared to go as far as a complete climb-down. but every one to his taste. "There's nothing like giving a man a bit in every now and then. I said that you would scorn to tarnish the Jackson escutcheon by not playing the game. of course?" "Of course not. He's not a bad cove." said Mike indignantly. "Sha'n't play. There was a pause. why not?" . "It wouldn't be a bad idea. but Comrade Adair seems to have done it." said Mike. Comrade Adair's rather a stoutish fellow in his way. why not drop him a line to say that you'll play against the M. As a start. "How's Adair?" asked Mike. not afraid of work.C. before. if possible. to a certain extent. in fact. he had seemed to himself to be acting with massive dignity. It revolutionised Mike's view of things. He had come to this conclusion. "I seldom interfere in terrestrial strife. after much earnest thought. You didn't." he said. "Look here.The fight. it mightn't be a scaly scheme to give him a bit of a send-off. and drained the bad blood out of him. He's all for giving Sedleigh a much-needed boost-up." It came upon Mike with painful clearness that he had been making an ass of himself. There had appeared to him something rather fine in his policy of refusing to identify himself in any way with Sedleigh. to return to the point under discussion. by making the cricket season a bit of a banger. My eloquence convinced him. but it seems to me that there's an opening here for a capable peace-maker. He was feeling better disposed towards Adair and Sedleigh than he had felt. We have been chatting." "He's all right. and willing to give his services in exchange for a comfortable home. to-morrow?" Mike did not reply at once. is that Stone apparently led him to understand that you had offered to give him and Robinson places in your village team. he now saw that he had simply been sulking like some wretched kid. "Sitting up and taking nourishment once more. However. Jones. It shook him up. had the result which most fights have. Where.C. It broadens the soul and improves the action of the skin. I shouldn't have thought anybody would get overwhelmingly attached to this abode of wrath. Psmith straightened his tie.' game. I'm not much on the 'Play up for the old school. And as he's leaving at the end of the term. Apparently he's been sweating since early childhood to buck the school up.

But when the cricket season came." "Then why haven't you played?" "Why haven't you?" "Why didn't you come and play for Lower Borlock." Mike stared. _I_ am playing. "Can you play cricket?" "You have discovered. Are you really any good at cricket?" "Competent judges at Eton gave me to understand so. However----" ." "----Dismiss it. breathing on a coat-button." "You wrong me." "No. and drifted with the stream."I don't--What I mean to say--" began Mike. into a slow left-hand bowler with a swerve. Comrade Jackson. "If your trouble is. Imagine my feelings when I found that I was degenerating." "You're rotting. where was I? Gone." "But you told me you didn't like cricket." said Psmith. I turn out to-morrow. and polishing it with his handkerchief. I do. "that you fear that you may be in unworthy company----" "Don't be an ass. I mean?" "The last time I played in a village cricket match I was caught at point by a man in braces. "You're what? You?" "I. when he finds that his keenest archaeological disciple has deserted. "my secret sorrow." said Psmith. My nerves are so exquisitely balanced that a thing of that sort takes years off my life. but it was useless." said Psmith. What Comrade Outwood will say. I did think. bar rotting. I was told that this year I should be a certainty for Lord's. that I had found a haven of rest. But at schools where cricket is compulsory you have to overcome your private prejudices. Smith. I fought against it. and after a while I gave up the struggle. Last year. in a house match"--Psmith's voice took on a deeper tone of melancholy--"I took seven for thirteen in the second innings on a hard wicket. but look here. little by little. And in time the thing becomes a habit. but it was not to be. I hate to think. It would have been madness to risk another such shock to my system. You said you only liked watching it. Gone like some beautiful flower that withers in the night. when I came here." "Quite right.

" "I say. "How did he do that?" "During the brawl. I don't know. Adair won't be there himself. A moment later there was a continuous patter. I'll play." he said. broke in earnest. there was nothing to stop Mike doing so." "That's all right. the recalcitrant. ask him to get me a small pot of some rare old jam and tell the man to chalk it up to me. And they had both worked it off. but he read Psmith's mind now. Mike found that his late antagonist was out. He's not playing against the M. It's nothing bad. but useless to anybody who values life. as--at the bottom of his heart--he wanted to do. which had been gathering all day." On arriving at Mr. If Psmith. the last person whom he would have expected to be a player.C. and here was Psmith. did not consider it too much of a climb-down to renounce his resolution not to play for Sedleigh. each in his own way--Mike sullenly. so had Psmith been disappointed of his place in the Eton team at Lord's. Psmith whimsically." "Not a bad scheme. Then in a flash Mike understood. A spot of rain fell on his hand. what beastly rough luck! I'd no idea. Downing's and going to Adair's study. He left a note informing him of his willingness to play in the morrow's match." he said to himself. "At this rate. I'll write a note to Adair now. The lock-up bell rang as he went out of the house. and if you see anybody downstairs who looks as if he were likely to be going over to the shop. Here was he. The whole face of his world had undergone a quick change. Close the door gently after you. Since the term began. stating calmly that he had been in the running for a place in the Eton eleven. he and Psmith had been acting on precisely similar motives. "By Jove. Anyhow. "if you're playing.C.Mike felt as if a young and powerful earthquake had passed. as the storm. Just as he had been disappointed of the captaincy of cricket at Wrykyn. The jam Comrade Outwood supplies to us at tea is all right as a practical joke or as a food for those anxious to commit suicide. I'll go round. and ran back to Outwood's. Apparently one of his efforts got home on your elbow instead of your expressive countenance. But. I say--" he stopped--"I'm hanged if I'm going to turn out and field before breakfast to-morrow." CHAPTER LVI IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED "Sprained his wrist?" said Mike. wavering on the point of playing for the school. therefore. You won't have to. according to their respective natures--on Sedleigh. He was not by nature intuitive. and whether it was that your elbow was particularly tough or his wrist particularly fragile. Mike turned up his coat-collar. it went. "there won't be a match at all . but it'll keep him out of the game to-morrow. He's sprained his wrist.

" "Beastly nuisance when one does. Three if one didn't hurry. and examined it with an elaborate care born of nervousness. damp and depressed. "Right ho!" said Adair. So do I. "About nine These moments are always difficult. "Coming across?" he said awkwardly. It was one of those bad days when one sits in the pavilion. met Adair at Downing's gate. shuffling across to school in a Burberry. . They walked on in silence." * * * * * When the weather decides." "Beastly." "Yes." "I hate having to hurry over to school. Mike stopped--he could hardly walk on as if nothing had happened--and looked down at his feet. isn't it?" said Mike. till there was not a trace of blue to be seen. crawl miserably about the field in couples. though." "It's only about a couple of minutes from the houses to the school. We've got plenty of time. it does the thing thoroughly." Another silence." "Oh. to show what it can do in another direction. Leaden-coloured clouds drifted over the sky." "Yes. in the gentle. I should think. "It's only about ten to. shouldn't you?" "Not much more. determined way rain has when it means to make a day of it. after behaving well for some weeks. if one didn't hurry. Might be three. When Mike woke the next morning the world was grey and dripping. Mike." "Yes. Adair fished out his watch. with discoloured buckskin boots. yes." "So do I. and then the rain began again." "Good. while figures in mackintoshes." "I often do cut it rather fine.

" "Oh.. with his height." "Good. "I don't know... probably." "I bet you anything you like you would. doesn't it?" "Rotten." said Adair. I should think he'd be a hot bowler." .." Silence again." "I'd no idea you'd crocked yourself. that's all right. Jolly hard luck. we ought to have a jolly good season. how long will your wrist keep you out of cricket?" "Be all right in a week. I say." said Mike." "We've heaps of time. rather not. "I say." "What's the time?" asked Mike." "Does it hurt?" "Oh.. that's all right." "Rummy. thanks. just before the match. "Rotten. "Five to. rot."Beastly day. "awfully sorry about your wrist. Adair produced his watch once more.." "Oh.. no." "Yes. Smith turning out to be a cricketer. Less." "I bet you I shouldn't. no." "He must be jolly good if he was only just out of the Eton team last year." "Yes. You'd have smashed me anyhow." "Oh. Do you think we shall get a game?" Adair inspected the sky carefully.. thanks awfully for saying you'd play. scowling at his toes.." "Oh." "Now that you and Smith are going to play. It was my fault. rot. It looks pretty bad." "Oh. I say. It was only right at the end. no.

Mike. It was Stone seeming so dead certain that he could play for Lower Borlock if I chucked him from the school team that gave me the idea. He eluded the pitfall. he displayed quite a creditable amount of intuition. heaps." "It was rotten enough. When a Chinaman wishes to pay a compliment."Yes." "No. He might have been misled by Adair's apparently deprecatory attitude towards Sedleigh. he does so by belittling himself and his belongings. even if he had. but I wasn't going to do a rotten trick like getting other fellows away from the team. I know. "I say. and come to a small school like this. "Sedleigh's one of the most sporting schools I've ever come across. that's all right. He was telling me that you thought I'd promised to give Stone and Robinson places in the----" "Oh." Adair shuffled awkwardly. It was only for a bit. So they ought to be. no." "Of course not. I wouldn't have done it. and blundered into a denunciation of the place. perceived that the words were used purely from politeness. Smith told me you couldn't have done." "I didn't want to play myself. fortunately." The excitement of the past few days must have had a stimulating effect on Mike's mind--shaken it up. rotten little hole. Everybody's as keen as blazes." "Let's stroll on a bit down the road. really. as it were: for now. after the way you've sweated. . shall we?" "Right ho!" Mike cleared his throat." "He never even asked me to get him a place. isn't it?" or words to that effect. I know. "What rot!" he said." "Of course. Adair had said "a small school like this" in the sort of voice which might have led his hearer to think that he was expected to say. no. and I saw that I was an ass to think you could have. for the second time in two days." "No." "Hullo?" "I've been talking to Smith. on the Chinese principle. "Yes. Beastly rough luck having to leave Wrykyn just when you were going to be captain. not playing myself." "Oh.

and the bowling isn't so bad. I'm not sure that I care much." For the first time during the conversation their eyes met." . we've got a jolly hot lot. with a grin. but with a small place like this you simply can't get the best teams to give you a match till you've done something to show that you aren't absolute rotters at the game. which won't hurt me. I don't know which I'd least soon be.C. there's the bell. "But I don't suppose I've done anything much. and really. They probably aren't sending down much of a team. I'm jolly glad no one saw us except Smith. If only we could have given this M. You've been sweating for years to get the match on." Mike stopped. and hang about in case." "You've loosened one of my front teeth. What would you have done if you'd had a challenge from Sedleigh? You'd either have laughed till you were sick. when you get to know him. "I can't have done. "By jove. As for the schools. because I'm certain. "_You_ were all right. except that if one was Downing one could tread on the black-beetle. then. now that you and Smith are turning out. As you're crocked. They'd simply laugh at you." "I don't know that so much. We'd better be moving on. I wish we could play. It's better than doing Thucydides with Downing. and it would be rather rot playing it without you." "I couldn't eat anything except porridge this morning. I've never had the gloves on in my life." he said. anyhow. so I don't see anything of him all day. Let's get a match on with Wrykyn. I never thought of it before. I got about half a pint down my neck just then. it's all right for a school like Wrykyn. till the interval. we'd walk into them."I've always been fairly keen on the place." "What! They wouldn't play us. You'd better get changed." said Adair. they're worse. "if that's any comfort to you. you've struck about the brightest scheme on record. There's quite decent batting all the way through." "He isn't a bad sort of chap." "It might clear before eleven. and the humorous side of the thing struck them simultaneously. Dash this rain. Downing or a black-beetle. You were cricket secretary at Wrykyn last year. I must have looked rotten. We sha'n't get a game to-day. Hullo. lot a really good hammering. of anything like it.C. What about this match? Not much chance of it from the look of the sky at present. who doesn't count. with you and Smith. it might have been easier to get some good fixtures for next season. You see. "What fools we must have looked!" said Adair. They began to laugh. or else had a fit at the mere idea of the thing." "All right. My jaw still aches. We've got math. at the interval." said Mike.

match was accordingly scratched. "I don't wish to be in any way harsh. wandering back to the house. "A nuisance. For the moment I am baffled. it seemed. yesterday. they would. if you like. To which Adair. He was still fiddling away at it when Mike returned.C. All he knew was that the housemaster was in the house."Yes. saying that the Ripton match had had to be scratched owing to illness. the captain. generally with abusive comments on its inventor. though Psmith was at first too absorbed to notice it. After which the M. I'm pretty sure they would. after hanging about dismally.C. seeing that it was out of the question that there should be any cricket that afternoon. and would be glad if Mike would step across.C. If he wants you to stop to tea. regretfully agreed. We'll smash them. he worked at it both in and out of school. approaching Adair." he said at last. "if we only could!" CHAPTER LVII MR. edge away." Mike changed quickly. At least. The whisper flies round the clubs. moved that this merry meeting be considered off and himself and his men permitted to catch the next train back to town. lunched in the pavilion at one o'clock." said Psmith. captain. Downing wished to see Mike as soon as he was changed. Downing. was agitated. What do you say?" Adair was as one who has seen a vision. with a message that Mr. Meanwhile. Mr. You come and have a shot. So they've got a vacant date. I had a letter from Strachan. "By Jove. earnestly occupied with a puzzle which had been scattered through the land by a weekly paper. A meal on rather a sumptuous scale will be prepared in the study against your return.'" . The two teams. The messenger did not know. M. were met by a damp junior from Downing's. who was fond of simple pleasures in his spare time. And they aren't strong this year. The prize for a solution was one thousand pounds. had not confided in him. without looking up. and Psmith had already informed Mike with some minuteness of his plans for the disposition of this sum. 'Psmith is baffled. and went off. and whiling the time away with stump-cricket in the changing-rooms. Mike. leaving Psmith. "What's he want me for?" inquired Mike. Mike and Psmith. and the first Sedleigh _v_. That's the worst of being popular. Shall I try them? I'll write to Strachan to-night. DOWNING MOVES The rain continued without a break all the morning." said Psmith. "but the man who invented this thing was a blighter of the worst type. "this incessant demand for you.C.

by the way?" asked Psmith. "Me. "You remember that painting Sammy business?" "As if it were yesterday. "Which it was. Jawed a lot of rot about my finding it to my advantage later on if I behaved sensibly." "I know. you know all about that." "Then what are you worrying about? Don't you know that when a master wants you to do the confessing-act." "Then your chat with Comrade Downing was not of the old-College-chumsmeeting-unexpectedly-after-years'-separation type? What has he been doing to you?" "He's off his nut. pretty nearly."The man's an absolute drivelling ass. "I didn't. it simply means that he hasn't enough evidence to start in on you with? You're all right. he's got enough evidence to sink a ship." said Mike warmly. "My dear man." "I'm not talking about your rotten puzzle. doing the Sherlock Holmes business for all he's worth ever since the thing happened." "Evidence!" said Mike. But what did he do? How did the brainstorm burst? Did he jump at you from behind a door and bite a piece out of your leg. As far as I can see. But after listening to Downing I almost began to wonder if I hadn't. But. dash it." "Why? Have you ever shown any talent in the painting line?" "The silly ass wanted me to confess that I'd done it. and now he's dead certain that I painted Sammy. The man's got stacks of evidence to prove that I did. he's been crawling about. "No." "_Did_ you. . He as good as asked me to. Give you a nice start in life. He's absolutely sweating evidence at every pore." said Mike shortly. I believe he's off his nut." "Such as what?" "It's mostly about my boots. do you mean?" "What on earth would be the point of my doing it?" "You'd gather in a thousand of the best." said Psmith." "What are you talking about?" "That ass Downing." "He thinks I did it. or did he say he was a tea-pot?" Mike sat down. The thing's a stand-off.

[Illustration: MIKE DROPPED THE SOOT-COVERED OBJECT IN THE FENDER. you were with him when he came and looked for them. and glared at it. it was like this. And what is that red stain across the toe? Is it blood? No. sickening thud. But what makes him think that the boot. and is hiding it somewhere. if any." he said mournfully." "Yes." said Mike." "It is true. right in the cart. Edmund swears he hasn't seen it.Why. "How on earth did--By Jove! I remember now. "It _is_." said Psmith. Mike dropped the soot-covered object in the fender. . "What the dickens are you talking about?" "Go on. kneeling beside the fender and groping. And I'm the only chap in the house who hasn't got a pair of boots to show. Are you particular about dirtying your hands? If you aren't." Mike seemed unable to remove his eyes from the boot. so he thinks it's me. Be a man. "that Comrade Downing and I spent a very pleasant half-hour together inspecting boots. I kicked up against something in the dark when I was putting my bicycle back that night. "but--_Hullo_!" "Ah ha!" said Psmith moodily. That's what makes it so jolly awkward. I don't know where the dickens my other boot has gone." said Psmith. 'tis not blood. with a dull. was yours?" "He's certain that somebody in this house got one of his boots splashed. Get it over. but how does he drag you into it?" "He swears one of the boots was splashed with paint. and reach up the chimney." Psmith sighed. I have landed you.] "It's my boot!" he said at last. It's too long to tell you now----" "Your stories are never too long for me. So I had to go over to school yesterday in pumps." And Mike related the events which had led up to his midnight excursion. In my simple zeal. just reach up that chimney a bit?" Mike stared. meaning to save you unpleasantness. "Comrade Jackson. That's how he spotted me. Of course I've got two pairs." "I don't know what the game is. Psmith listened attentively. It is red paint. He babbled to some extent on that point when I was entertaining him. "your boot. but one's being soled." said Psmith." "Then you were out that night?" "Rather. "all this very sad affair shows the folly of acting from the best motives. It must have been the paint-pot. and it's nowhere about. "Say on!" "Well.

I take it." "Probably. So. I say. You had better put the case in my hands." "Sufficient. in a moment of absent-mindedness. If I can't produce this boot. and the chap who painted Sammy." "Well. "quite sufficient. he must take steps. are the same. This needs thought. then. when Mike had finished. in connection with this painful affair." "_He'll_ want you to confess. I _am_ in the cart." "I suppose not. You're _absolutely_ certain you didn't paint that dog? Didn't do it. was it?" "Yes." said Psmith. that was about all. "confirms my frequently stated opinion that Comrade Jellicoe is one of Nature's blitherers." "I suppose he's gone to the Old Man about it." said Mike." Psmith pondered. and--well. A very worrying time our headmaster is having." asked Psmith. You never know. "was the position of affairs between you and Comrade Downing when you left him? Had you definitely parted brass-rags? Or did you simply sort of drift apart with mutual courtesies?" "Oh. I shall get landed both ways. Masters are all whales on confession. That was why I rang the alarm bell." "Possibly."This. "Not for a pretty considerable time." "And the result is that you are in something of a tight place. I suppose not. "It _is_ a tightish place. and I said I didn't care. he said I was ill-advised to continue that attitude. then. they're bound to guess why. and he said very well. The worst of it is. inspecting it with disfavour. so to speak. and go out and watch the dandelions growing. I hope you'll be able to think of something. you see. collecting a gang." he said. which was me. You see. you can't prove an alibi. I wonder who did!" "It's beastly awkward. So that's why he touched us for our hard-earned. and try to get something out of me. I can't. I hadn't painted his bally dog. he's certain to think that the chap he chased. I will think over the matter." "What exactly. because at about the time the foul act was perpetrated." he admitted. or some rot. too. by any chance." . Downing chased me that night. that he is now on the war-path. and forgot all about it? No? No. taking it all round. What do you think his move will be?" "I suppose he'll send for me. too. "I wonder if we could get this boot clean. Of course there was no need for him to have the money at all. you were playing Round-and-round-the-mulberry-bush with Comrade Downing.

Downing which hung on the wall. "_You're_ all right. wrapped in thought. Smith. "See how we have trained them. carrying a straw hat adorned with the school-house ribbon. when Psmith. . "An excellent likeness." He turned to the small boy. "that Mr." "Ha!" said Mr. "They now knock before entering. "I'm seeing nothing of you to-day." "I told you so. "Don't go. having handed over the letters in an ultra-formal and professional manner." said Psmith encouragingly." he said." said Psmith. caught sight of him. I say. "Tell him to write. sir. Psmith stood by politely till the postman. and requested to wait. Come in. "Tell Willie. Downing shortly. "All this is very trying." said Mr. Downing. Don't go in for any airy explanations." The emissary departed." said Psmith.There was a tap at the door. he allowed Mike to go on his way." he added. who had leaned back in his chair. He was. answered the invitation. He had not been gone two minutes. You can't beat it. with a gesture of the hand towards the painting." With which expert advice. apparently absorbed in conversation with the parlour-maid. Jackson. "Oh." A small boy. it seemed. Simply stick to stout denial. passed away. Jackson will be with him in a moment. The postman was at the door when he got there. when the housemaster came in. heaved himself up again." said Psmith. Thence. who had just been told it was like his impudence. He stood for a moment straightening his tie at the looking-glass. "what do you wish to see me about?" "It was in connection with the regrettable painting of your dog. at the same dignified rate of progress. Stout denial is the thing. then he picked up his hat and moved slowly out of the door and down the passage. and." said Mike to Psmith." Mike got up. "the headmaster sent me over to tell you he wants to see you." suggested Psmith. "Well. He was examining a portrait of Mr. There was a time when they would have tried to smash in a panel. "Is Mr. sir. Psmith was shown into the dining-room on the left of the hall. "Just you keep on saying you're all right. out of the house and in at Downing's front gate. Downing at home?" inquired Psmith.

Downing. Downing to see you. There is nothing in this world quite so stolid and uncommunicative as a boy who has made up his mind to be stolid and uncommunicative. Downing. unsupported by any weighty evidence. would have thought it funny at first. the extent to which appearances--" --which was practically going back to the beginning and starting again--when there was a knock at the door. "No. Mike with a feeling of relief--for Stout Denial. sir. who sat and looked past him at the bookshelves. stopping and flicking a piece of fluff off his knee. Is there anything I can----?" "I have discovered--I have been informed--In short. any more than he could imagine doing it himself. Mike could not imagine Psmith doing a rotten thing like covering a housemaster's dog with red paint. felt awkward. "Not Jackson?" said the headmaster. do not realise this. As for Psmith . as a rule. except possibly the owner of the dog. Mr. but anybody. A voice without said." Psmith! Mike was more than surprised. "Mr. They had both been amused at the sight of Sammy after the operation. Both Mike and the headmaster were oppressed by a feeling that the situation was difficult. "but----" "Not at all. The atmosphere was heavy. who committed the--who painted my dog. Jackson. and conversation showed a tendency to flag. it was not Jackson. As it happened. There is nothing which affords so clear an index to a boy's character as the type of rag which he considers humorous. is a wearing game to play--the headmaster with astonishment. It was a boy in the same house. Smith. Downing had laid before him. their feeling had been that it was a scuggish thing to have done and beastly rough luck on the poor brute. and the headmaster." said Mr. "I do not think you fully realise. It was a scene which needed either a dramatic interruption or a neat exit speech. After the first surprise. Between what is a rag and what is merely a rotten trick there is a very definite line drawn. Masters."I did it." said Psmith. what it got was the dramatic interruption. He could not believe it. but after that a massive silence had been the order of the day. as he sat and looked at Mike." and the chief witness for the prosecution burst in. sir. The headmaster was just saying. with a summary of the evidence which Mr. but boys nearly always do. "I would not have interrupted you. The headmaster had opened brightly enough. CHAPTER LVIII THE ARTIST CLAIMS HIS WORK The line of action which Psmith had called Stout Denial is an excellent line to adopt." Mike and the headmaster both looked at the speaker. especially if you really are innocent. It was a kid's trick. but it does not lead to anything in the shape of a bright and snappy dialogue between accuser and accused.

It did not make him in the least degree jubilant. If Psmith had painted Sammy. "Certainly. sir. Downing----" "It was Dunster." said the Head. though he had always had scores of acquaintances--and with Wyatt and Psmith he had found himself at home from the first moment he had met them." said the headmaster. Mike simply did not believe it. worse than he had felt when Wyatt had been caught on a similar occasion. This was bound to mean the sack. if possible. or even thankful. "Smith!" said the headmaster. to know that he himself was cleared of the charge. as if he had been running. who was nodding from time to time. Downing was saying." "Yes. "Yes." said Mr. Downing. He sat there. we know--. Mike's eyes opened to their fullest extent. if you are going back to your house. "May I go. looking at Mr. "Ah. "that the boy himself came to me a few moments ago and confessed. Jackson. All he could think of was that Psmith was done for. sir. "Adair!" . "What makes you think that?" "Simply this. Mike took advantage of a pause to get up. Mike felt. It seemed as if Fate had a special grudge against his best friends. Downing was talking rapidly to the headmaster. sir. It was Adair. "Come in. "It was about Sammy--Sampson. Well. Adair. Mr. it meant that Psmith had broken out of his house at night: and it was not likely that the rules about nocturnal wandering were less strict at Sedleigh than at any other school in the kingdom. with calm triumph. Adair." "It wasn't Jackson who did it. Downing leaped in his chair. sir?" he said. certainly. with a curious feeling of having swallowed a heavy weight." Terrific sensation! The headmaster gave a sort of strangled yelp of astonishment." He had reached the door. Downing." he said." "No. no.having done it. He did not make friends very quickly or easily. what did you wish to say. Mr. Adair?" Adair was breathing rather heavily. "Oh." Mike was conscious of a feeling of acute depression. sir. So Mr. and er--. tell Smith that I should like to see him. hardly listening to what Mr. when again there was a knock.

Downing. of all people? Dunster. two minutes after Mr. "Adair!" "Yes. but not particularly startling. "I do not understand how this thing could have been done by Dunster. had played a mean trick on him. the dog. and that the real criminal was Dunster--it was this that made him feel that somebody. and he told me that Mr. I'd better tell Mr. I tried to find Mr. His brain was swimming." "_Laughed!_" Mr. sir. That Mike. sir. had left the school at Christmas. too. he remembered dizzily. And why. It was a . but he wasn't in the house." "He was down here for the Old Sedleighans' match. "Yes. if Dunster had really painted the dog. should be innocent.There was almost a wail in the headmaster's voice. in the words of an American author. Downing's announcement of Psmith's confession. Downing." "And what was his attitude when he had read it?" "He laughed. perhaps. was curious. Why Dunster." "I see. who. I got a letter from him only five minutes ago. for a rag--for a joke. sir. sir. and substituted for his brain a side-order of cauliflower. sir. Downing at once." "Did you say anything to him about your having received this letter from Dunster?" "I gave him the letter to read. He has left the school. Downing's voice was thunderous. Downing snorted. Downing had gone over to see you. despite the evidence against him. in which he said that he had painted Sammy--Sampson. The situation had suddenly become too much for him." said the headmaster. and that." "Smith told you?" said Mr. But that Adair should inform him. sir?" "What--_what_ do you mean?" "It _was_ Dunster. sir. sir. sir. He rolled about. "Yes. sir. Then I met Smith outside the house. had Psmith asserted that he himself was the culprit? Why--why anything? He concentrated his mind on Adair as the only person who could save him from impending brain-fever. as he didn't want any one here to get into a row--be punished for it." Mr. He stopped the night in the village. that Psmith. Well. I am sorry that it is even an Old Boy. "But Adair." "And that was the night the--it happened?" "Yes. I am glad to find that the blame cannot be attached to any boy in the school. was guiltless.

Presently there was a sound of footsteps on the stairs. Barlow." said the headmaster. I suppose. sir?" "Sit down." "The sergeant. Downing." "If it was really Dunster who painted my dog. He was cheerful. feels that some slight apology is expected from him." he observed. sir. while it lasted." "Thank you. sir. between whom and himself time has broken down the barriers of restraint and formality. Barlow." "If you please. as the butler appeared. "I shall write to him. He arrived soon after Mr. If he did not do it. as you would probably wish to see him shortly. "You wished to see me. but it is not as bad as if any boy still at the school had broken out of his house at night to do it. He gave the impression of one who. Adair. sir. but slightly deprecating. "kindly go across to Mr. what possible motive could he have had for coming to me of his own accord and deliberately confessing?" "To be sure. Outwood's house. sir. "It is certainly a thing that calls for explanation. and there was not even a clock in the room to break the stillness with its ticking. Mr. sir. The door was opened. saying that he would wait. He advanced into the room with a gentle half-smile which suggested good-will to all men. "told me that the boy he saw was attempting to enter Mr." He dropped into a deep arm-chair (which both Adair and Mike had avoided in favour of less luxurious seats) with the confidential cosiness of a fashionable physician calling on a patient." "Another freak of Dunster's. .foolish. Downing. "Mr." said Mr." said Mr." There followed one of the tensest "stage waits" of Mike's experience." "Yes. Nobody seemed to have anything to say. Smith." said the headmaster. the silence was quite solid. Smith. Ask him to step up." The old Etonian entered as would the guest of the evening who is a few moments late for dinner. pressing a bell. Outwood's house and inform Smith that I should like to see him. "It is still raining." "In the hall!" "Yes. sir. A very faint drip-drip of rain could be heard outside the window." he said. discreditable thing to have done. but. It was not long. though sure of his welcome. Smith is waiting in the hall. "I cannot understand the part played by Smith in this affair." "H'm.

Then he went on. The headmaster tapped nervously with his foot on the floor. there was silence. "Smith. do you remember ever having had. "I should like to see you alone for a moment. I do not for a moment wish to pain you." . sir. When he and Psmith were alone. "It is remarkable. Have you no explanation to offer? What induced you to do such a thing?" Psmith sighed softly. sir. "----This is a most extraordinary affair." he replied sadly. "Er--Smith. one finds men confessing that they have done it when it is out of the question that they should have committed it. Mr." proceeded Psmith placidly. as a child. "The craze for notoriety." Psmith turned his gaze politely in the housemaster's direction." "Sir?" The headmaster seemed to have some difficulty in proceeding. Human nature----" The headmaster interrupted. "The curse of the present age. "Smith. let us say. sir. you came to me a quarter of an hour ago and told me that it was you who had painted my dog Sampson. when a murder has been committed." "But. Psmith leaned back comfortably in his chair. but have you--er. Downing burst out. Psmith bent forward encouragingly.Mr." "Yes." "What!" cried the headmaster." "It was absolutely untrue?" "I am afraid so. Smith--" began the headmaster. with the impersonal touch of one lecturing on generalities." He made a motion towards the door. "Er--Smith." he said. like a reservoir that has broken its banks. sir. Downing might I trouble--? Adair. It is one of the most interesting problems with which anthropologists are confronted. He paused again. "Smith. "how frequently. any--er--severe illness? Any--er--_mental_ illness?" "No. Jackson.

sir. For the moment. Smith. "Well?" said Mike." said Psmith. so I thought it wouldn't be an unsound scheme if I were to go and say I had done it. the proper relations boy and--Well. "I did not mean to suggest--quite so. and there seemed some danger of his being expelled. "Of course." "Well. "You _are_ the limit. "Not a bad old sort." "I will certainly respect any confidence----" "I don't want anybody to know. I must drop in from time to time and cultivate him. the headmaster found Psmith's man-to-man attitude somewhat disconcerting..." . "By no means a bad old sort. Smith. at last." There was a pause. tell nobody." He held out his hand."There is no--forgive me if I am touching on a sad subject--there is no--none of your near relatives have ever suffered in the way I--er--have described?" "There isn't a lunatic on the list.. "It was a very wrong thing to do. it was like this. of sometimes apt to forget. "Jackson happened to tell me that you and Mr. Downing's dog. We had a very pleasant chat. that you confessed to an act which you had not committed purely from some sudden impulse which you cannot explain?" "Strictly between ourselves. You are a curious boy. sir. This is strictly between ourselves. if you do not wish it. Downing seemed to think he had painted Mr. sir. sir. Smith?" "I should not like it to go any further. "Good-night.. I shall. "but. That was the whole thing. of course. then. but he said nothing. Smith. "What's he done?" "Nothing. We later. sir. as he walked downstairs." * * * * * Mike and Adair were waiting for him outside the front door." said Adair." "I think you are existing between can return to it say. sir----" Privately." said Psmith cheerfully. never mind that for the present. Good-night. "Well. let me hear what you wish to course. Of course." said the headmaster.." said Psmith. You think.." said the headmaster hurriedly." said Psmith meditatively to himself. Smith. Dunster writing created a certain amount of confusion. quite so. and then I tore myself away.

Sedleigh were paying the penalty for allowing themselves to be influenced by nerves in the early part of the day." said Mike obstinately. Nerves lose more school matches than good play ever won. too." said Mike. "By the way. who had led on the first innings." said Psmith. They walked on towards the houses. for it was a one day match. "Jackson's going to try and get Wrykyn to give us a game." said he. "My dear Comrade Jackson. WRYKYN The Wrykyn match was three-parts over. I should think they're certain to. There is a certain type of . "I'll write to Strachan to-night about that match." said Adair. CHAPTER LIX SEDLEIGH _v_. In a way one might have said that the game was over." Psmith's expression was one of pain." "What's that?" asked Psmith. "you wrong me. I believe you did. Adair. Psmith." Psmith moaned." said Mike suddenly. chuck it."Do you mean to say he's not going to do a thing?" "Not a thing. You make me writhe. you're a marvel. "They've got a vacant date. Psmith thanked him courteously. as the latter started to turn in at Downing's. and Wrykyn. and things were going badly for Sedleigh. "what really made you tell Downing you'd done it?" "The craving for----" "Oh. I believe it was simply to get me out of a jolly tight corner. had only to play out time to make the game theirs." said Mike. "And it was jolly good of you." "Well." "And give Comrade Downing. and that Sedleigh had lost. all the same. I'm surprised at you. You aren't talking to the Old Man now. when you see him. I never thought to hear those words from Michael Jackson." "Well." * * * * * "I say. I hope the dickens they'll do it. "my very best love. "Good-night. It is men like him who make this Merrie England of ours what it is." said Adair." "Oh.

To-day the start had been gruesome beyond words. Seven wickets were down for thirty when Psmith went in. and that on their present form Sedleigh ought to win easily. that Wrykyn were weak this season. reached such a high standard that this probably meant little. playing back to half-volleys. whatever might happen to the others. Whereas Wrykyn. but were not comforted. Unless the first pair make a really good start. and were clean bowled. Wrykyn might be below their usual strength. That put the finishing-touch on the panic. A school eleven are always at their worst and nerviest before lunch. declined to hit out at anything. Ten minutes later the innings was over. Experience counts enormously in school matches. this in itself was a calamity. had entered upon this match in a state of the most azure funk.C. as he did repeatedly. had been beating Ripton teams and Free Foresters teams and M. lost Strachan for twenty before lunch. all quite decent punishing batsmen when their nerves allowed them to play their own game. July the twentieth. going in first with Barnes and taking first over. a collapse almost invariably ensues. the bulwark of the side. with the exception of Adair. Sedleigh would play Wrykyn. Sedleigh had never been proved. Mike. and. Psmith. The team listened. Psmith had always disclaimed any pretensions to batting skill. on Mike's authority. and . and he used it. for seventy-nine. crawled to the wickets. It was unfortunate that Adair had won the toss. The subtlety of the bowlers becomes magnified. with Barnes not out sixteen. and had been caught at short slip off his second ball. Sedleigh. Sedleigh had gone on to the field that morning a depressed side. from time immemorial. and Mike. Three consecutive balls from Bruce he turned into full-tosses and swept to the leg-boundary. as a rule. assisted by Barnes. at least a fifty was expected--Mike. Even on their own ground they find the surroundings lonely and unfamiliar. but his batting was not equal to his bowling. the Wrykyn slow bowler. He had had no choice but to take first innings. who had been sitting on the splice in his usual manner. Ever since Mike had received Strachan's answer and Adair had announced on the notice-board that on Saturday. but then Wrykyn batsman who is a gift to any bowler when he once lets his imagination run away with him. several of them. and the others. the team had been all on the jump. and from whom. Adair did not suffer from panic.C. The weather had been bad for the last week. so Adair had chosen to bat first. However weak Wrykyn might be--for them--there was a very firm impression among the members of the Sedleigh first eleven that the other school was quite strong enough to knock the cover off _them_. Taking into consideration the state of nerves the team was in. It was useless for Adair to tell them. Stone. and the wicket was slow and treacherous. Wrykyn had then gone in. had played inside one from Bruce. but he was undoubtedly the right man for a crisis like this. with his score at thirty-five. he raised the total to seventy-one before being yorked. It was likely to get worse during the day. The teams they played were the sort of sides which the Wrykyn second eleven would play. the man who had been brought up on Wrykyn bowling. He had an enormous reach. and he had fallen after hitting one four. teams packed with county men and sending men to Oxford and Cambridge who got their blues as freshmen. Robinson.

and then Psmith made a suggestion which altered the game completely. having another knock. But Adair and Psmith. But. for Strachan forced the game from the first ball. They were playing all the good balls. At least eight of the team had looked forward dismally to an afternoon's leather-hunting. with sixty-nine to make if they wished to make them. his slows playing havoc with the tail. helped by the wicket. It was on Mike's suggestion that Psmith and himself went in first. and finished up his over with a c-and-b. but there seemed no chance of getting past the batsmen's defence. The time was twenty-five past five. It would be too much to say that Sedleigh had any hope of pulling the game out of the fire. had never been easy. all but a dozen runs. You can break like blazes if only you land on it. who had just reached his fifty. and which he hit into the pavilion. Wrykyn decided that it was not good enough. if they could knock Bruce off. And it seemed to Mike that the wicket would be so bad then that they easily might. when Psmith was bowled. was getting too dangerous. two runs later. as they were crossing over. and an hour and ten minutes during which to keep up their wickets if they preferred to take things easy and go for a win on the first innings. they felt. but it was a comfort. This was the state of the game at the point at which this chapter opened. At first it looked as if they meant to knock off the runs. with an hour all but five minutes to go. and the hands of the clock stood at ten minutes past six. restored to his proper frame of mind. The score was a hundred and twenty when Mike. Mike knew the limitations of the Wrykyn bowling. As is usual at this stage of a match. A quarter past six struck. He treated all the bowlers alike. Psmith got the next man stumped. and they felt capable of better things than in the first innings.finally completed their innings at a quarter to four for a hundred and thirty-one. which was Psmith's. "There's a spot on the off which might help you a lot. Seventeen for three had become twenty-four for three. the next pair. especially Psmith. always provided that Wrykyn collapsed in the second innings. Wrykyn started batting at twenty-five minutes to six. So Drummond and Rigby. Seventeen for three. And when Stone came in. Adair bowled him. and he was convinced that. This was better than Sedleigh had expected. and by that time Mike was set and in his best vein. As Mike reached the pavilion. and after him Robinson and the rest. proceeded to play with caution. Changes of bowling had been tried. and refused to hit at the bad. Adair declared the innings closed. The deficit had been wiped off. It doesn't help my . And when. who had taken six wickets. it might be possible to rattle up a score sufficient to give them the game. and the collapse ceased. And they had hit. and lashed out stoutly. "Why don't you have a shot this end?" he said to Adair. skied one to Strachan at cover. So he and Psmith had gone in at four o'clock to hit. at fifteen. their nervousness had vanished. it looked as if Sedleigh had a chance again. at any rate.

Now there was a stir and buzz all round the ground. have you thought of the massacre which will ensue? You will have left. "he was going about in a sort of trance. Adair will have left. and Mike." "He bowled awfully well. Incidentally. Sedleigh had been lethargic and without hope. beaming vaguely and wanting to stand people things at the shop. discussing things in general and the game in particular. he walked more rapidly than a batsman usually walks to the crease." said Mike. The next moment Drummond's off-stump was lying at an angle of forty-five. Adair's a jolly good sort. "I say. Adair's third ball dropped just short of the spot. hitting out. and chucked it up. demoralised by the sudden change in the game. Five minutes before. while the wicket-keeper straightened the stumps again. but you say Wrykyn are going to give Sedleigh a fixture again next year?" "Well?" "Well. because they won't hit at them. After that the thing was a walk-over. Sedleigh was on top again. The batsman. Psmith clean bowled a man in his next over. was a shade too soon. the great thing. and the tail. Wrykyn will swamp them. and he had dropped his first ball right on the worn patch. "Still. Adair was absolutely accurate as a bowler. Two minutes later Drummond's successor was retiring to the pavilion." "When I last saw Comrade Adair." said Psmith. and it'll make him happy for weeks." said Psmith. is to get the thing started. and five wickets were down. when Adair took the ball from him. * * * * * Psmith and Mike sat in their study after lock-up. he's satisfied.leg-breaks a bit. As a matter of fact. I'm glad we won. got to it as he was falling. "I feel like a beastly renegade. The ball hummed through the air a couple of feet from the ground in the direction of mid-off. There were twenty-five minutes to go. There is nothing like a couple of unexpected wickets for altering the atmosphere of a game. The captain of Outwood's retired to short leg with an air that suggested that he was glad to be relieved of his prominent post. That's what Adair was so keen on. I shall have left. playing against Wrykyn. They can get on fixtures with decent ." "I suppose they will. Still. Now Sedleigh has beaten Wrykyn." "Yes. I don't wish to cast a gloom over this joyful occasion in any way." Barnes was on the point of beginning to bowl. diving to the right. The next man seemed to take an age coming out. you see. collapsed uncompromisingly. Sedleigh won by thirty-five runs with eight minutes in hand. Produced by Suzanne L. Shall we stagger?" They staggered. They may be modified and printed and given away--you may do practically ANYTHING with public domain eBooks. besides. and it would be a pity to waste a somewhat golden opportunity. and work up to playing the big schools. Comrade Outwood has gone over to dinner at the School House. especially commercial redistribution.clubs. Redistribution is subject to the trademark license. Wodehouse *** END OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE *** ***** This file should be named 7423-8. End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Mike. Shell." said Psmith. You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose such as creation of derivative works. Project Gutenberg is a registered trademark. reports. reflectively. unless you receive specific permission. Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions will be renamed. "in an emergency they can always get Comrade Downing to bowl for them. So it's all ***** This and all associated files of various formats will be found in: http://www. complying with the rules is very easy.gutenberg. and may not be used if you charge for the eBooks. set forth in the General Terms of Use part of this license. Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. Special rules. performances and research. Jim Tinsley. you see. by using or distributing this work . If you do not charge anything for copies of this eBook. by P. apply to copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark. Creating the works from public domain print editions means that no one owns a United States copyright in these works.txt or 7423-8. You've got to start somehow. With thanks to Amherst College Library. *** START: FULL LICENSE *** THE FULL PROJECT GUTENBERG LICENSE PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU DISTRIBUTE OR USE THIS WORK To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free distribution of electronic works." "And. what? Let us now sally out and see if we can't promote a rag of some sort in this abode of wrath. so the Foundation (and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without permission and without paying copyright royalties.

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